5 ways to cut power costs

Though it might not get as much attention as big hardware and software purchases, energy use is a large part of an IT department’s budget — and one that can usually be trimmed significantly.

Many power-saving methods come with high price tags of their own. But a recent InfoWorld story points out some less conventional ways to cut the energy bill that organizations can achieve for little or no cost:

  1. Turn up the heat in the data center — While conventional wisdom states that server rooms should be kept below 70 degrees, some experts say you can safely go higher. For example, Google’s energy chief Bill Weihl told attendees of last year’s GreenNet conference that 80 degrees can be used, as long as hot and cold air are kept separate from each other.
  2. Cool with outside air — This method does have some start-up costs, but some companies have great success cooling their data centers by pumping in cooler air from the outside.
  3. Power down servers that aren’t in use — Some people claim frequently turning servers on and off can lower their life expectancies — but some experts point out there’s no evidence that’s the case. Therefore, some recommend powering servers when they aren’t currently in use, provided there’s need for them to become available immediately.
  4. Send servers’ hot air to the rest of the building — IT can help the company cut energy costs elsewhere by sending heat generated by servers to other parts of the building to keep the rest of the office warm. After all there’s no point in firing up a furnace when the company already has a bunch of heat-generating machines, right?
  5. Use solid-state disks (SSDs) when possible — SSDs have come down in price recently, allowing more companies to reap the potential energy savings they can provide. The non-spinning drives are best used for read-only storage where there’s less danger of the disks wearing out.

What has your company done to lower its energy costs? Let us know in the comments section below.

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