The $3 Billion Electricity Bill - InformationWeek

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4/28/2008
12:48 PM
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The $3 Billion Electricity Bill

How much are you paying to run your servers? A study on server electricity consumption says the utility bill for U.S. servers came to nearly $3 billion dollars.

How much are you paying to run your servers? A study on server electricity consumption says the utility bill for U.S. servers came to nearly $3 billion dollars.As Energy Camp kicks off here at Interop, I thought it would be good to find some baseline numbers to help frame the discussion of power consumption by IT operations.

A report by a scientist from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, published in 2007, looked at the amount of electricity used by servers in the United States in 2005.

The numbers are stunning. The report estimated that total server electricity consumption is 23 billion kWh. If you add in cooling and auxiliary equipment, that total jumps to 45 billion kWh. The total estimated utility bill came to $2.7 billion.

These are astounding numbers. However, it's also interesting to note that these figures represent just 1.2% of the total U.S. electricity consumption -- about the same as color television sets.

When I read that, I thought "Hey, that's not so bad." But the report notes these numbers are almost double from 2000. Given the increased growth in Web services and the massive amounts of data being generated by both consumer and business apps, I'd be willing to guess that growth will continue.

It's also interesting to note, as the keynote speakers are talking, someone threw out the figure that about 80% of IT data center managers don't see their electricity bills. That's probably going to change.

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