Heata, which began as an innovation project with British Gas, is a UK company that connects a server to your hot water cylinder and provides hot water to the house master for free up to 4.8 kWh per day, and at least 2.5 kWh as per contractual obligations.
Companies spend millions of dollars to cool the servers hosted in their data centers and most of that heat is completely wasted. So Heata decided to create a win-win solution that lowers their cooling cost and provides free hot water to whoever has their server installed in their house.
The installation process is said to be tested and approved by British Gas so you don’t lose your hot water cylinder warranty, and the heat transfer mechanism is patented as well under the UK patent GB2576035. A technician would come to cut the insulation and attach a thermal bridge to the cylinder. The installation takes 30 minutes, and if you decide you don’t want to host the server after all, it can be removed and sealed without losing the warranty.
There are some limitations as it only works with vented 425mm to 450mm diameter cylinders and you also need to have enough space around the cylinder (401 x 281 x 110mm) to install the server. Heata says each of their units uses 56% less electricity and saves 1 tonne of carbon per year against a typical data center plus hot water heating. It also saves up to £200 / year (~$240 US) for the typical household, and it can deliver up to 80% of an average UK household’s hot water energy consumption.
While you do get free hot water, you won’t have access to the server, as they sell the compute capabilities to their customer who gets some ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) points in the process. I also wondered if they made use of your broadband access, in which case it could be an issue, but the answer is no, as we are told the server uses its own connection which will either be its own dedicated fiber line or a 4G/5G connection.
It looks pretty good on paper as long as they take care of potential downsides like a water leak due to a botched installation. If you happen to live in the UK with a hot water cylinder that matches the requirements, you may apply to the Heata trial. The installation includes an electric meter just for the server, and the electricity bill will be paid by Innovate UK and Heata. The rest of the world can watch how this little experiment goes and follows their step if everything works well…
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.