[rescue] winter heating and folding

Ron Wickersham rjw at alembic.com
Fri Nov 14 17:05:18 CST 2003

> Message: 13
> Date: Fri, 14 Nov 2003 15:01:06 -0500
> From: "Sheldon T. Hall" <shel at cmhcsys.com>

> Speaking of winter and home heating ...
> Is a Watt a Watt, when it comes to heat?  Can I heat my house with computers
> just as efficiently as with an electric furnace?
> My house is all-electric; there's no city gas here on the island.  We have a
> forced-air electric (FAE)furnace.  I don't know its actual power draw when
> operating, but it's on a 220 V 50-Amp circuit, so it's not trivial.  The
> unit itself isn't particularly old, so I assume it is relatively efficient,
> in that it turns as much of that electricity into heat as it can.
> How much of the electricity consumed by a computer is turned into heat?  My
> physics professors (M.Flanders and D.Swann) taught me that "Heat is work and
> work is heat," so I suspect the answer is "all of it."
> If that's so, it would be just as efficient for me to heat the house with
> computers running DistributedFolding as with the furnace, right?  And I can
> tell SWMBO you said so, right?

yes, Shel,

it costs exactly the same amount for a watt-second to run the computer as
a watt-second you buy to put in the electric furnace.   and a watt-second
(or buying in bulk with kilowatt-hours) is just as much heat.

a resistance-type electric furnace is 100% efficient in turning watts into
heat and so is a computer.    for more capital (and mainenance) cost you
can get a heat pump that will have a much greater than 100% efficency.

tell SWMBO that for the exact same comfort level, you get the added benefit
of doing something useful with the check you're sending to the power company.
the cost of heating the house will be identical.


More information about the rescue mailing list