Appliances and electronics generate a lot of waste heat when they operate. As Howard Brown pointed out in a previous post, our homes often become a battleground in an “energy war” between separate appliances, as some pump out heat while others work to cool the air.

On a larger scale, the vast network of data servers that power the cloud accessed by millions worldwide generate an enormous amount of waste heat. These servers are often housed in large quantities in data centers that require massive cooling systems to prevent overheating. The German company AOTERRA aims to change this by distributing servers across networks of homes and using the servers’ waste energy to heat those homes.

By placing servers in homes and connecting them directly to boilers, AOTERRA is taking two separate technologies and attempting to create a system that performs better. It’s an interesting strategy to capture heat that’s not only currently wasted, but has be countered with cooling systems that require even more energy inputs. What do you think of this strategy, particularly in terms of decentralizing the servers? Do you see any downsides that might reduce resource performance? What are some alternatives?