U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

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Energy 101: Energy Efficient Data Centers (Text Version)

Below is the text version for the Energy 101: Energy Efficient Data Centers video.

The video opens with "Energy 101: Energy Efficient Data Centers" followed by a series of images of data center hardware and people using computers.

It's hard to imagine going back to a world without computers. They store critical data for our everyday lives.

The video shows footage of data center hardware.
The same is true for large companies, governments, and organizations—they couldn't run without their data. That's why there are data centers across the U.S. that store and update all that information constantly. But these centers use a lot of power to keep a world of data just a click away.

The words "Up to 3% of all electricity powers data centers" appear on the screen.

Up to 3% of all U.S. electricity powers data centers. And as more information comes online, data centers will consume even more energy.

The video shows footage of data center hardware.

So it's a good thing energy efficient data centers are becoming more popular. They significantly reduce how much energy it takes to power our digital lives.

The video shows a man walking through rows of data center servers, followed by footage of walls of hard drives and their cooling features.

All right, so a data center is rows and rows of servers storing information on chains of hard drives that run continuously. They can get very hot. That means they have to be cooled constantly. Typically, expensive, heavy-duty air conditioning does the job.

The video shows a man opening the door to a server in a data center. Next, the video moves to close-up images of the server hardware.

Things are much different in an energy efficient data center. At first glance, it looks similar: rows and rows of servers. But take a closer look, and you'll see it's quite different.

The video shows servers in stand-by mode, which is indicated by the lights on the hardware. Next, the vidoe moves to shots of a computer screen running energy monitoring software.

Instead of running all the time, these efficient servers switch to a low-power "stand-by" mode when they're not in use. In stand-by mode, efficient servers use a fraction of the electricity as standard servers; they run a lot cooler, too. And new software tools can help optimize energy use.

An animation of a data center appears onscreen with multiple rows of servers. The direction of hot air moving from these servers to air ducts is shown with arrows.

In this data center, instead of using air conditioning, there are actually two different air treatment systems. One system sucks hot air out of the data center. In cold months, the heat is redistributed through the building's duct work to help to keep the rest of the building warm.

An animation of the exterior of a building appears onscreen. A vent on the ground next to the building leads to an underground cooling system. The direction of cool air moving through the vent to the underground system to the data center is shown using arrows.

A second system pulls in fresh air from this vent. The air circulates underground where the constant temperature is about 54 degrees. From there, the chilled air circulates through a completely separate system and cools the data center. And fans circulate the cool air back to the servers.

Footage of the exterior of a large building is shown onscreen, fading into an image of the interior of the data center.

Thanks to a climate ripe for these efficiency methods, this data center rarely uses air conditioning—only 33 hours throughout the entire year. Keep in mind, the data center is always working…24/7.

More footage of data center servers appears onscreen.

Okay, now here's the real advantage. For every watt your computer equipment uses, data centers require more than two watts of power. But here, just one-tenth of a watt is needed. Compared to a traditional data center of a similar size, this data center uses 81% less energy.

Regardless of your climate, you can realize big savings through smart data center design. And that's good for the bottom line.