Microsoft Research in a new paper demonstrates a concept to heat households using "Data Furnaces" which are actually distributed cloud servers.
In the research paper, Microsoft makes a case for using servers as a replacement for heaters in houses, saying that "cloud computing is hot, literally" and that "computers can be placed directly into buildings to provide low latency cloud computing for its offices or residents, and the heat that is generated can be used to heat the building."
The paper stating that a "computer server is a metal box that converts electricity into heat" and the exhaust air is around 40-50C which is "perfect for heating purposes, cloth dryers, water heaters and agriculture." The company appears to be doing the research in the interest of carbon footprint reduction, saying that if they replaced half of home heating with these data furnaces, the IT industry could "double in size without increasing its carbon footprint."
The company also points out that they could use older servers to reduce costs because their inefficiency and higher heat levels would be ideal to heat a home.
Microsoft thinks they could save anywhere from $280 to $320 USD a year per server compared to having it housed in a data center.
Read the full paper embedded below, or download using the link under for ofline reading:
You can download the research paper here (pdf).