Beating datacentre heat on the cheap

Increasing the set point temperature in your datacentre by just one measly degree can reduce energy consumption by four percent to five percent.

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In the datacentre, admins are feeling the heat. Business-critical hardware must remain properly cooled, but the energy bills seem to soar exponentially as the temperature rises.

Fortunately, even the most frugal and financially-strapped organisations have ways to cut their AC bills without having to perform an entire IT-operations overhaul.

The following are a few tips for trimming not only some expense from your cooling bills, but as a result, shrinking your organisation’s environmental footprint in the process.

1. Fight heat with heat

According to Dave Douglas, Sun’s vice president of eco-responsibility, increasing the set point temperature in your datacentre by just one measly degree can reduce energy consumption by four to five percent. Raising the set point from 20C to 22C could save 15 percent to 20 percent of the cooling energy, according to Douglas, “while still keeping air inlet temperatures well within computer manufacturer specifications.”

In fact, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers suggests setting the temperature in a modern data centre at 25.5 degrees, which reaps even more savings.

2. Plug holes in the raised floor

Plugging those holes in the floor is a widely recommended best practice. Leaks can result in cool air escaping, as well as hot spots. Holes and leaks can crop up in various places. One of the more common culprits are the cable holes under racks and cabinets.

Robert McFarlane, president of the Interport division at Shen Milsom Wilke, recommends plugging those holes with either a do-it-yourself sealant, made from Masonite and duct tape, for example, or using a commercial product. Placing blanking panels on all unused space in front of a rack call also promote efficient cooling.

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