Bitcoin mining is undeniably an energy-intensive industry; miners worldwide are looking for the cheapest forms of energy they can get their hands on to remain competitive and keep more of the profits from their operations. However, energy cost reductions can only go so far, and if you have sunk costs involved in your setup, it’s not always viable to pick up and move to a cheaper energy source, so you’ve got to make do with what you’ve got and try to get more juice out of every squeeze.
If you can’t tweak the input, your next attack vector to reduce cost is to tweak the output, and apart from a lot of noise, bitcoin miners generate a bunch of heat. Miners exude large quantities of heat as a byproduct of the hashing process, which conventionally has been vented into the atmosphere, but there are ways to put this heat to better use.
Competitive mining companies and home miners are exploring ways to recover and repurpose waste heat to create additional revenue streams and offset electricity costs and create new income generation opportunities.
The heat recovery from bitcoin miners is a low-carbon technology that cuts across multiple sectors of the economy, and we’re starting to see different applications emerge in the process.
Using bitcoin miner heat for residential purposes
Home miners still form part of the bitcoin ecosystem, and they’re not going away anytime soon; individuals who mine bitcoin either do so to acquire non-KYC satoshis, to provide an outlet for their home solar energy production, or they’re committed to supporting the bitcoin network, and it’s continued decentralisation.
If you are mining at home or thinking about home mining, but you’re worried about the heat, there are ways you can channel it into something more valuable than blasting it out a window or vent. So let’s start at home and see how we can make your miner heat an extra treat.
Residential home heating systems
If you’ve set up a home miner, you may want to consider the placement of your setup; instead of hooking it up to any outlet, have one set up close to where your heating system is, should you have central heating. The heat from bitcoin mining can be integrated into residential home water heating systems.
Alternatively, you can set up your miner to push heat through certain vents in the house. A great option if your wife does send you to the dog box for talking her ears off about bitcoin, you can chill out in your man cave with your flip-flops, crack open a cold one and listen to your favourite bitcoin podcasts.
Residential water heating systems
Traditional geysers using a heating element can take up much of your electricity bill; you may only use the hot water to clean yourself and your home with your washing machine. Depending on the washing machine, you could draw from the geyser element or the in-built element. Anytime an element is fired up, it takes an enormous amount of energy. Instead of having to pay t heat up your water, instead, you could funnel your miner heat to a boiler of your own.
You can either build one yourself or get a prebuilt one like the Sato, a bitcoin miner-powered water boiler produced by WiseMining. Sato uses immersion cooling technology to stabilise temperature and works with regular water-based emitters like radiators to deliver up to 5Kw of power. Sato heats water and mines bitcoin without excess energy use.
Pools and hot tubs
Traditional or solar water heating technology for swimming pools can cost between $2,000-5000, which is an expense just to keep you cosy and pruney. So why not get your heat from a source that pays you to generate it? By hooking up your miners to your water pump can heat your hot tub or pools by recycling an ASICs’ residual heat at no additional cost, well, no cost after you’ve built out your water recycling system.
Once it’s all set up, you can relax, enjoy the bubbles and know your ASIC keeps you warm and toasty while filling your cold storage wallet.
Drying your clothes
If you cannot hang your clothes on the washing line due to the weather, you can turn your bitcoin miner into a tumble dryer that pays you. You can either place your clothing a distance away from the miner and let it dry within the room or set up something more elaborate by funnelling the air into a basket where you’ve placed all your goodies to be dried.
If you have no washing, why not leave your undies and PJs there when you hop out of the shower or your towels once you’ve had a bath? Who needs a heated towel rack when you have an ASIC?
Using bitcoin miner heat for commercial purposes
Now that we’ve handled the residential uses for miner heat, we have to look at those operations with hundreds if not thousands of miners pumping out what could be a free sauna session if you hang around too long. So what are the big boys up to those running their own industrial or hosted mining setups, who crank up the heat with their miners?
Excess heat from bitcoin mining can be recycled for food production. Companies like genesis mining is actively working with partnerships with Swedish academic/research institutions. They are developing and deploying mining-heated greenhouses. Genesis Mining’s technology redirects ASIC residual heat to 300m2 greenhouses using 600 kW air-cooled data centre containers.
Bitcoin Bloem is another example of how bitcoin mining can be scaled and used to supplement other industries; this dutch based florist and greenhouse uses its miner heat to grow a host of flowers.
Believe it or not, but bitcoin miners are getting into the preservatives game, too; miners are using the heat from their ASIC to dry fruits, vegetables and even meat.
If you thought boozing with bitcoin would never become a thing, you are mistaken, and Canadian bitcoin mining firm Mintgreen aims to bridge the gap. They’ve launched a program partnering with Canadian whiskey company Shelter Point Distillery to provide heating services that help their whiskey-making process. Distilling alcohol requires high temperatures, and distilleries often have dedicated heating systems, which add to their costs; if a distillery can offset that cost by partnering with a willing provider of heat like a miner, the pair can toast to a perfect match.
Whether the wood is needed as construction material or as fuel for a cabin fire, wood needs to be dry first. This can be a long process, so lumber yards often rely on artificial drying methods, especially in places that don’t have a lot of sunlight. One option is to use artificial dying where the wood is in thermally insulated chambers — called kilns. Once there, it is exposed to heat using natural gas or electricity through steam-heated heat exchangers. While it speeds up the heating process, it also adds costs, costs that you need to pass on to consumers.
Instead, wood drying operations can either ASIC miners or partner with a mining company that can provide the necessary heat for wood drying while helping mitigate those losses through Bitcoin earnings. The ASICs’ heat is transferred into the kilns through corrugated air pipes, raising the temperature and drying the wood for industrial purposes.
Can you stand the heat?
The repurposing of bitcoin mining heat shows what a creative bunch of people bitcoiners are and how they refuse to let anything go to waste. Bitcoin miners are not solely burning electricity to chase digital tokens and boil the oceans. They’re trying to figure out ways to maximise energy usage while supporting and securing a global payment network for all that choose to use it.
Repurposing heat from miners is only one method of reducing waste from the mining process and creating new opportunities in this space. We’ve already seen many clever ways to achieve it, and I am sure there will be more along the way. It is only logical that as more people are exposed to technology, they’ll apply their skillset to it and try to incorporate it into a range of solutions.
Engage in a heated debate
What is your favourite use of bitcoin miner heat? Are there some methods of heat repurposing that we did not consider? Let us know in the comments below; we’re always keen to learn from miners worldwide.