This article recently appeared in the New York Times:
Two researchers at the University of Virginia and four at Microsoft Research explored this possibility in a paper presented this year at the Usenix Workshop on Hot Topics in Cloud Computing. The paper looks at how the servers — though still operated by their companies — could be placed inside homes and used as a source of heat. The authors call the concept the “data furnace.”
The data furnace would be really useful for people who have extra roof space for solar panels. In most places, the electric utility limits the amount of solar power that a home can sell back to the grid, and pays for excess power at "avoided cost", far below retail rates. At the Solar Gardens Institute, we have been thinking of useful, green ways that people can increase their electricity demand to match their roof's capacity, such as plug-in car charging for their neighbors and distributed server farms. But it hadn't occurred to us that you could also use the servers to heat your home!
what do you think?