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8 Tips to Reduce Costs of Data Centre Energy Bills

By Blog, Thought Leadership

Operating a data centre is expensive, but energy consumption is vital to the ongoing expenses of a data centre, which is one of the reasons why the industry is making such a drive for sustainability.

Today, the most significant cost of running a data centre is energy, with the average data centre spending 25% to 60% of its total expenses on energy consumption alone in the UK. It illustrates the need to act by integrating green technologies into new and legacy data centres.

What uses the most energy in a data centre?

Energy consumption is the biggest expense involved in running a data centre. This is because of the immense costs of running servers and the necessary cooling infrastructure. In fact, data centre energy consumption has grown so much that it now accounts for 3% of the global electricity supply.

So, what are the largest contributors to your data centre energy bill?

Servers/IT Equipment – Servers, storage and networking devices and peripherals are the largest energy consumers in data centres.
Cooling – Data centres generate massive amounts of heat. Advanced cooling systems, including chillers and air conditioning units, are required to prevent overheating.
Power Distributions – Data centres rely on Power Distribution Units (PDUs), including Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPSs), to distribute electricity and provide emergency power if outages occur.
Lighting – Whilst lighting doesn’t consume as much energy as servers and cooling systems, permanent lighting is required for maintenance, monitoring and accessibility. This fact alone means lighting contributes a large chunk to your energy expenditure.

Can data centres reduce their energy consumption?

Data centres can take action to reduce their energy consumption. Although data centres will always consume significant energy, taking steps can result in massive cost savings.
Actions like upgrading legacy technology, recycling old systems and using renewable energy sources are ways that data centres can tackle the sustainability issue.
Additionally, new data centres can focus on sustainability as part of a genuinely green data centre. The Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact has already been established to set firm guidelines as to what constitutes a sustainable data centre.
For existing data centres, the path to sustainability will likely be a long-term endeavour because legacy hardware may need to be replaced within the boundaries of current budgets.

Tips on how to reduce costs of data centre energy bills

Utility bills are no small expense. Whilst some data centres may concede these as unavoidable expenses, creative problem-solving and a real commitment to sustainability can save data centres tens of thousands annually.
Follow these tips for some simple ways to reduce the cost of data centre energy bills:

Integrate modern cooling systems

Cooling systems are an enormous drain on your resources. Some estimates state that inefficient data centres could spend up to 60% of their utility bills on cooling alone.
By introducing next-generation cooling solutions however, companies can decrease their utility bills. Some ideas could include:
  • Deploying hot/cold aisle configurations.
  • Minimising bypass airflow.
  • Investing in air handlers and chillers.
Doing away with legacy cooling systems can reduce your energy wastage and allow you to take more control over environmental conditions, including temperature and humidity.

Software-powered smart design

Experts know that data centre efficiency boils down to choosing the solutions that cover the greatest workload with the lowest number of hardware pieces.
Identifying underutilised pieces of equipment and removing underused applications can lower your energy costs across the board. It’s also possible to remove “bloatware” from the equation.
Bloatware is ineffectual software that drains power from your data centre due to excessive CPU cycles.
In other words, software-powered smart design is based on limiting hardware and doing more with less.

Leveraging server virtualisation

Server virtualisation is a powerful tool enabling you to consolidate servers and storage as part of a single platform. Virtualisation allows you to segregate applications, data and operating systems.
Running applications on shared hardware via virtual machines reduces your need for space, more power, more cooling and more resources.
Note that server virtualisation cannot solve all of your problems. For example, you may still require underutilised equipment to handle peak loads. Either way, virtualisation still contributes to efficiently migrating your data centre’s workload.

Controlling airflow management

Airflow management is another crucial energy efficiency practice. For example, if your data centre has raised floors, there’s a strong possibility that you are experiencing uncontrolled air leakage. Sealing these raised floors and removing unnecessary blockages within would be one solution.
What if clutter control and underfloor blockages are irresolvable problems? In this case, consider installing overhead cable trays. According to Schneider Electric, overhead cable trays lead to a 24% reduction in cooling fan power consumption.

Switch to variable-speed fans

Another option for decreasing energy usage is moving to variable-speed fans. This move could provide a much-needed CPU fan speed reduction.
The beauty of these fans is that they only run at the required speeds when needed. This is because they operate using sophisticated thermostatic equipment.
You can apply this same principle to other devices beyond your servers. Consider examining the cooling features of hardware like UPSs.

Use liquid cooling solutions

High-performance hardware often experiences the trade-off between high-performance vs high energy consumption. This is why high-end equipment often relies on adopting liquid cooling for CPUs as standard.
Instead of using fans to move air across a heat sink, liquid cooling involves using a liquid, such as water, to dissipate heat.
Today, experts consider liquid cooling to be the gold standard of cooling when compared to air-cooling methods.

Increase the temperature

Once upon a time, raising the temperature within a data centre would be considered risky. However, equipment vendors have designed systems capable of operating at higher temperatures than usual.
Many servers can operate at 77 degrees Fahrenheit, but most data centres still stick to the 65 degrees Fahrenheit guideline for temperature.
Raising the ambient temperature a few degrees can reduce your cooling systems’ power usage without impacting server performance. Moreover, taking this step requires no investment or overhead.

Power down inactive servers

Server virtualisation has demonstrated the sustainability advantages of doing more with your hardware to use less; but, why not power down entire servers that are not in use?
Too many data centres always keep them spinning because they want to have more business agility, but is it worth the thousands in costs that come with operating inactive servers?
Try searching for instances where servers can be powered down. The chances are, there may be some objections to this move, such as:
Lower Server Life Expectancy – The myth that power cycling lowers the server’s life expectancy is just that: a myth. Servers are built using the same components as hardware that’s commonly power cycled, including medical devices and vehicles.
Too Long to Power – Some people claim that servers take too long to power up. However, you can counter this by turning off boot-time diagnostic checks or booting from operational snapshots.
Customer Dissatisfaction – Users have shown they are willing to hang in there to get up and running. Most application architectures don’t decline user requests but slow them down; this has been shown to have zero impact on retention or satisfaction rates.
In short, servers are built to be switched on and off at will. If you have the budget for automation technology, you can even set up parameters that will automatically power up or down servers for maximum energy efficiency.

What is the most cost effective way to reduce energy consumption in data centres?

Upgrading your energy efficiency often means making significant investments; but, there are low-cost alternatives.
Upping the temperature is one option as part of controlled pilot experiments. On the other hand, you can also use “free” outside air-cooling to help harness the Earth’s natural resources.
Studies have shown that this option works incredibly well. For example, Intel saw a 74% reduction in power consumption after implementing free-air cooling. According to the computing giant’s findings, they saved $3 million in cost savings and used 76 million gallons of water less.

If you’re ready to reduce your energy bills for your data centre, contact the Keysource team today.

Whilst these steps can help, creating a green data centre with the help of professionals can always yield better results. Consulting with Keysource on upgrading your data centre or building a sustainable data centre from scratch can allow you to maximise efficiency opportunities.

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Keysource and Deep Green Win DCS Award – Edge Project of the Year

By Blog, News

Keysource and Deep Green are proud to announce that we have won the Edge Project of the Year award at the DCS Awards! This recognises our innovative approach to data centre design and construction, which uses sustainable technologies to reduce energy consumption and environmental impact.

Project Overview

An innovative start up Deep Green has seen the heat generated by a data centre used to heat a Devon public swimming pool. The computers inside the white box are surrounded by oil to capture the heat – enough to heat the pool to about 30C 60% of the time, saving Exmouth Leisure Centre thousands of pounds. The data centre is provided to the council-run centre free of charge and the leisure centre’s electricity costs for running the “digital boiler” will also be refunded.

Sean Day, who runs the leisure centre, said he had been expecting its energy bills to rise by £100,000 this year. “The partnership has really helped us reduce the costs of what has been astronomical over the last 12 months – our energy prices and gas prices have gone through the roof.

The future of the data centre has to be at the heart of communities, contributing too, rather than detracting from local communities. We can do this as part of an integrated planning process, leveraging the heat for district heating, support local community services like swimming pools or even as part of new residential and commercial developments.

Rishi Sunak recently highlighted the £800m investment in supercomputing, and what better way to achieve this in a sustainable manner, to support NetZero 2030 than an integrated Metropolitan Edge data centre within every community. Keysource and Deep Green are working together to scale this approach across the UK.

Challenges Addressed

Energy costs are at an all-time high and swimming pools are struggling to stay open. (Last summer, BBC News revealed 65 swimming pools had closed since 2019, with rising energy costs cited as a significant reason.) This also bucks the trend of data centre projects by repurposing the heat generated to serve the local community.

The project was able to find the ‘load’ that marries up with the Direct Liquid Cooling compute approach in a footprint that can be sustainable and secure whilst ensuring the IT hardware has valid ‘warranty’ in DLC / Immersed environment.

Moving forward this approach also addresses the Grid limitations and energy requirements that are significantly limiting opportunities to develop new data-centre capacity and creating significant negative publicity for the data centre industry which is manifesting itself in moratoriums on new project development.  In essence, rapidly growing industry energy requirements and carbon footprint represent an existential threat to existing DC business models.


This approach utilises small pockets of ‘spare’ and already allocated grid capacity to deliver edge and HPC capabilities within the fabric of society. The energy recapture model saves pools at least 63% on their energy requirements to heat the pool.  In exchange, the pools provide space, power and connectivity to support the deployment.

It utilises the energy efficiency benefits of immersion and direct liquid cooling in combination with heat re-use to deliver a PUE of 1.005 or lower and runs on 100% renewable energy.

Project Challenges

As with many projects in the sector we faced supply chain delays and had to also manage the programme with the swimming pool. The availability of skilled people was an issue as we were looking for specialist partners to work with, with strong supply chain and coverage to support the installation.

Warranty restrictions of existing components is not favourable to immersion projects so we had to work with OEM manufacturers to validate the use of their technology within immersed environments.


A cut in gas consumption for pool heating by 91%; a current PUE of 1.005 with a projected PUE of 1.003; projected cost savings of £2500 per month: and projected reduction of carbon footprint of 3 tonnes per month.

Are you looking for a data centre partner that can help you achieve your sustainability goals?

Keysource is a leading provider of data centre design, construction, and management services. We have a proven track record of delivering sustainable data centres that meet the needs of our clients.

Our team of experts can help you every step of the way, from planning and design to construction and commissioning. We will work with you to understand your specific needs and goals, and we will develop a custom solution that meets your budget and timeline.

We are committed to sustainability, and we are always looking for new ways to reduce our environmental impact. We use the latest technologies and techniques to design and build data centres that are as efficient as possible, improving their energy efficiency, reducing their water consumption, and minimizing waste.

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