4 Ways to Reduce Data Center Energy Consumption

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Many enterprises accept as inevitable the substantial electricity costs of running a data center. Much of this attitude stems from the inability of IT managers to accurately apportion energy consumption to specific equipment or operating procedures, as well as a lack of available modeling tools for assessing data-center electrical costs.

Yet the costs of data-center energy are too considerable to accept without question. Consider that, over a 10-year period, a 200 kW data center could rack up $4 million in electricity costs.

Fortunately, as we’ve found at APC/Schneider Electric, simple decisions made in the design of a new data center can result in savings of 20% to 50% of the electrical bill, and with systematic effort up to 90% of the electric bill can be avoided.

Think about that.  Eliminating 90% of a $4 million bill is sure to make an impression on the CIO and the CEO. But what concrete steps can you take?

Here we offer four strategies for reducing electric power consumption in data centers:

Right-size data center physical infrastructure equipment (DCPI)

If your goal is to reduce data-center electrical costs, this is the single most effective change you could implement. Right-sizing the load can save money in two ways: 1) By minimizing the fixed losses inherent in all power and cooling systems, and 2) By saving on IT load.

For example, a DCPI system loaded at 30% of rating would bear an electrical cost per kW of IT load of about $2,300 per kW each year. Right-size the system to the load, and that cost drops to $1,440.

Done “right,” right-sizing can reduce DCPI system electrical costs by up to 50%.

Virtualize your servers

This is another major way to cut electrical costs, for obvious reasons: Fewer installed servers in the data center mean lower power consumption and cooling costs.

Server virtualization can save anywhere from 10% to 40% in data center electrical costs. And it allows you to deploy the power and cooling resources you’ve freed up in other ways.

End the air-conditioner wars

Did you know a war may be going on in your data center? Different air-conditioners often do battle, with one heating the data center while the other cools it, or one humidifies while another dehumidifies. And while they’re canceling each other out, your electrical bill climbs.

Data centers can save up to 10% by coordinating air-conditioners. It may take the services of an air-flow professional, however.

Install energy-efficient lighting

This is a small savings (1% to 3%), but think again about that $4 million, 10-year electric bill and crunch some numbers.

Installing light systems that are tied to clocks or motion systems can save money by keeping lights off when they’re not needed. This also will give your cooling system less work to do; another savings.

Take a look at your current lighting and shop around for more energy-efficient alternatives. With all due respects to Thomas Edison and the incandescent light bulb, if you’re not using CFLs in your data center, you’re wasting money.

To learn more about these tips for making your data center more energy efficient, and to read six more of them, check out the APC/Schneider Electric white paper, Implementing Energy Efficient Data Centers.