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5 Tips to Cut Data Center Energy Use

Most data centers waste enormous amounts of electricity using inefficient cooling designs and systems. Gartner gives some tips which could save millions of kilowatt hours annually.

Most data centers waste enormous amounts of electricity using inefficient cooling designs and systems. "Even in a small data center, this wasted electricity amounts to more than 1 million kilowatt hours annually that could be saved with the implementation of some best practices," Paul McGuckin, research VP at Gartner, said in a release.

According to the consulting firm, it has identified 11 best practices that, if implemented, could save millions of kilowatt hours annually. Below are the top 5:

1. Plug Holes in the Raised Floor. Most raised-floor environments exhibit cable holes, conduit holes and other breaches that allow cold air to escape and mix with hot air. Plugging them can save as much as 10 percent of the energy used for data center cooling.

2. Install Blanking Panels. Any unused position in a rack needs to be covered with a blanking panel to manage airflow in a rack by preventing the hot air leaving one piece of equipment from entering the cold-air intake of other equipment in the same rack. When the panels are used effectively, supply air temperatures are lowered by as much as 22 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Coordinate CRAC Units. Older computer room air-conditioning units (CRACs) operate independently with respect to cooling and dehumidifying the air. These units should be tied together with newer technologies so that their efforts are coordinated, or remove humidification responsibilities from them altogether and place those responsibilities with a newer piece of technology.

4. Improve Underfloor Airflow. Older data centers typically have constrained space underneath the raised floor that is not only used for the distribution of cold air, but also has served as a place for data cables and power cables. Many old data centers have accumulated such a tangle of these cables that airflow is restricted. The underfloor should be cleaned out to improve airflow.

5. Implement Hot Aisles and Cold Aisles. In traditional data centers, racks were set up in what is sometimes referred to as a "classroom style," where all the intakes face in a single direction. This arrangement causes the hot air exhausted from one row to mix with the cold air being drawn into the adjacent row, thereby increasing the cold-air-supply temperature in uneven and sometimes unpredictable ways.

Melanie Rodier has worked as a print and broadcast journalist for over 10 years, covering business and finance, general news, and film trade news. Prior to joining Wall Street & Technology in April 2007, Melanie lived in Paris, where she worked for the International Herald ... View Full Bio

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