Saving Energy By Raising Your Data Center Thermostat - InformationWeek

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10/17/2008
03:58 PM
Roger Smith
Roger Smith
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Saving Energy By Raising Your Data Center Thermostat

Google is the latest company in the data center industry experimenting with raising the thermostats in its data centers as a way of saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs, according to a report this week by Data Center Knowledge.

Google is the latest company in the data center industry experimenting with raising the thermostats in its data centers as a way of saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs, according to a report this week by Data Center Knowledge."The guidance we give to data center operators is to raise the thermostat," said Erik Teetzel, an energy program manager at Google. "Many data centers operate at 70 degrees or below. We'd recommend looking at going to 80 degrees."

According to Data Center Knowledge, most data centers operate in a temperature range between 68 and 72 degrees, and some are as cold as 55 degrees. Raising the baseline temperature inside the data center, known as a set point, can save money spent on air conditioning. How much money are we talking about? Mark Monroe, the director of sustainable computing at Sun Microsystems, says that most data center managers can save 4% in energy costs for every degree of upward change in the set point. Speaking at a Data Center World conference in Dallas last year, Monroe said most of Sun's data centers were using set points between 68 and 72 degrees. After surveying 14 of Sun's data centers, Monroe found eight had the temperature set at 68 degrees, five at 72 and one at 74 degrees. "If you're running at 68 degrees, you're running at the bottom level of most of those ranges," Monroe said. "There's no reason why you can't move to 78." He said this is a "really simple thing to do," especially since most data center servers and equipment from HP, IBM, Sun and Cisco are all warranteed to work in environments up to 95 degrees.

Hewlett-Packard is raising both the bar and its set point by incorporating a sensor network and a central server to monitor and adjust cooling at six new data centers it is building in Atlanta, Austin, and Houston as part of a massive consolidation of its worldwide data centers. Early estimates suggest this automated approach, which it calls Dynamic Smart Cooling, could save the company about $8 million in power and cooling costs in just one of its new 100,000-square-foot facilities in Austin, Texas.

These results seem to suggest data center managers shouldn't be afraid to raise the thermostat a few degrees to save a considerable amount of money on power and cooling. If you're really thinking "outside the data center box," you might even want to do what Microsoft said it was doing last month and putting some of its data center servers outside in a tent. Of course, I think that's an option that's bound to be more successful in Seattle than Austin.

For more information:

Increasing requirements for processor cycles, memory, and storage as well as higher electricity demands mean your data center is consuming more power -- which means you're spending more -- every day. This InformationWeek Analytics report explains how to design a modular data center that will future-proof your investment.

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