What’s Holding You Back From Cashing In On Cooling Savings?

Why are companies reluctant to take action in reducing operating costs of cooling in their data centers? 

Can anyone answer this question for me?

If you are in a role as an energy or sustainability manager, or data center operations you are well aware of the high cost of electricity. Data centers are large consumers of electricity. For example, the energy cost for typical office space is about $2.10 per sq foot. Data center energy cost per square foot can range from $10 per sq foot to $20 or more. The make-up of most data centers is in the order of 50% energy cost to run the IT, storage and networking equipment and from 40 to 50% for cooling. Other support systems such as lights, security, etc will make up only about 3-4% of energy consumed. 

In the past 10 years there have been lots of changes improving energy consumption in the IT world. More powerful and energy efficient servers are available and virtualization of servers has helped companies reduce that portion of energy costs quite substantially. 

Cooling is often ignored

Cooling in existing data centers have not received the same attention. And it cannot be assumed that because the energy use and equivalent heat generated by improving IT operations is all that can be done. Improving cooling operation will have a major impact on energy costs but many companies either do not understand this or do not want to take appropriate action. Installing new energy efficient cooling systems is one alternative, but that is expensive and the payback is long, multiple years, based on energy reductions.  

What can be achieved when you take steps to improve cooling in a legacy data center?

Here are two examples of case studies for sites where we have implemented cooling optimization using existing cooling systems. 

To achieve the savings noted in these case studies we took the following steps:

  • Improved air flow management 
  • Existing cooling units were retrofitted with updated technology to be more responsive to ambient temperatures, (units were not replaced) 
  • Networking and sequencing of cooling units was implemented 
  • Operating parameters (temperature and humidity set points) were modified 

As cooling efficiency increased, more IT load can be accommodated with existing cooling, meaning capital spend for additional cooling units can be deferred. Overall thermal conditions (inlet temperatures to IT equipment) improved meaning IT equipment was operating better and the risk of service downtime was reduced. Excess inlet temperature can vastly shorten the life of IT equipment. 

We’re still left wondering 

Why are companies not taking more action to reduce cooling costs in data centers when it will have a significant impact on energy savings and sustainability via reduction in GHG and carbon footprint?  

Is it because of the perceived cost, even though these measures will have a 3 year or less payback? 

Is it due to a lack of knowledge as to what can/should be done? 

Is it a concern about data center uptime if changes are made? 

Assessing cooling operation

Two metrics that SCTi has developed and which offer detailed insight into the cooling operation are Cooling Efficiency and Cooling Effectiveness 

Cooling efficiency calculates how much power is required to generate 1 kW of cooling capacity. The lower this number the more efficient cooling systems are operating.  

Cooling effectiveness highlights how much cooling is required to cool 1 kW of IT load. If more than 1 kW of cooling capacity is required to cool 1 kW of IT load this is a clear indication of the need for improvements. These two metrics are established using energy metering at the baseline stage and similar metering at the end of the optimization project.  

Based on the results of the diagnostic audit, recommendations are made for improvements which include how significant the energy reductions will be, what the cost will be to make changes, how this will impact PUE and what the expected payback is. 

We’d be interested in hearing from companies as to why they are not concerned about wasting money on inefficient cooling, costing them tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars each year – with no return value. 

What’s holding you back? Give us a call or get in touch with us to discuss how this could work in your data center.  

Toll Free: 1-866-831-4775

Email : info@sct-inc.com

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