16 More Ways to Cut Energy Waste in the Data Center

These energy efficiency measures fall into one of 5 categories:

  1. Information technology (IT) – reducing the energy consumed IT equipment (e.g., servers, storage)
  2. Power infrastructure – reducing losses from power distribution units and uninterruptible power supplies
  3. Air flow management – improving cooling by preventing hot and cold air from mixing
  4. HVAC –  optimizing cooling and humidification systems
  5. Other.


Savings Measure

Brief Description


Consolidate lightly-used servers

  • Most servers aren’t running anywhere near capacity.  Consolidate and remove unneeded hardware.
  • Removing a single server can save $500 in energy, $500 in operating system licenses, and $1,500 in hardware maintenance costs annually. 


Implement efficient data storage measures

  • A variety of tools and technologies are available to help reduce the amount of data you store, and to store what you need more efficiently.
  • Deduplication software, for example, can reduce the amount of data stored at many organizations by more than 95%.


Utilize built-in server power management features

  • Modern servers come with features that can save energy, but they have to be activated.
  • For example, server processors can reduce power consumption during times of low utilization.

Power Infrastructure

Reduce energy losses from power distribution units (PDUs)

  • Look for more efficient PDUs and “smart” PDUs that monitor power usage.
  • High efficiency PDUs are 2 to 3 percent more efficient than conventional units.

Power Infrastructure

Reduce energy losses from uninterruptable power supply (UPS) systems

  • Energy-efficient UPS systems minimize electrical losses and may feature an “eco-mode.”  Properly loading UPS systems can save energy as well.
  • Running UPS systems in eco-mode can reduce data center energy costs by as much as 2 percent.

Air Flow Management

Manage airflow for cooling efficiency

  • Inexpensive grommets, diffusers, and blanking panels can keep cold air from mixing with hot exhaust air.
  • One large data center saves $360,000 annually thanks to inexpensive air flow management measures.

Air Flow Management

Move to a hot aisle/cold aisle layout

  • Rows of server racks should be oriented so that the fronts of servers face each other. In addition, the backs of server racks should also face each other as well, forming hot (exhaust) and cold aisles.
  • When used in combination with containment, DOE estimates reduction in fan energy use of 20% to 25%.

Air Flow Management

Utilize containment/enclosures

  • Curtains or Plexiglas panels can keep cold air from mixing with hot air exhausted from the backs of servers, reducing overall cooling costs.
  • In data centers with hot/cold aisle arrangements, containment systems can reduce energy expense by 5% to 10%.


Consider a water-side economizer

  • Use a cooling tower instead of a mechanical chiller to supply chilled water for cooling the data center.
  • Reduce the cost of chilled water by up to 70%.


Install in-rack or in-row cooling

  • These systems bring cold air closer to (or directly to) servers.
  • Can use 3 times less energy in high-energy density server rack than conventional cooling systems.


Make humidification adjustments

  • Generally speaking, IT equipment can tolerate wider ranges of humidity.
  • BNY Mellon expanded humidification set points, reducing humidification run-time from 80% to 20% of the time.
  • If you must add humidity, use energy-efficient technologies such as misters, foggers, and ultrasonic units.
  • eBay’s ultrasonic humidification units save $50,000 annually, a 2-year payback.


Use an air-side economizer

  • Cool your data center for (almost) free by using air from outside, weather permitting.
  • NetApp’s data center reduced cooling system energy usage by nearly 90 percent.


Use sensors and controls to match cooling capacity & airflow with IT loads

  • Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) is the convergence of IT and building facilities functions so that energy, equipment and floor space are used as efficiently as possible.
  • DCIM provides information to allow you to “right-size” the infrastructure and reduce energy costs by as much as 30 percent.


Benchmark your data center’s energy efficiency

  • Compare your facility to data centers across the country. 
  • Score high enough and you could earn the ENERGY STAR certified data center designation


Select a sustainable colocation facility

  • Migrate to a colocation facility with an eye towards energy efficiency.


Provide energy-efficiency awareness training

  • Energy efficiency is rarely part of an IT professional’s formal training.
  • Introducing basic energy efficiency concepts can get your colleagues thinking about ways to save.