From Iceland’s volcanic heat harvesting to a Norwegian couple’s use of a giant glass dome for solar gain, colder climes seem to inspire new ways of warming up homes. And now, a pair of Russian entrepreneurs are experimenting with a futuristic way of not only heating homes, but making sweet cash in the process: bitcoin mining.
Bitcoin mining entails using a computer—or hundreds of computers—to validate transactions made with the cryptocurrency. All that computing generates a surprising amount of heat. While there’s been talk of harvesting the heat from large data centers, builders Ilya Frolov and Dmitry Tolmachyov wondered if they could use the same principle to heat private homes.
The pair built a simple 215-square-foot house in the Siberian town of Irkutsk and installed two bitcoin miners. The heat from these small computers warms up a liquid that’s then pumped through a sub-floor heating system. The cabin is essentially heated at a profit of $430 a month from processing transactions.
“People who mine cryptocurrencies use big miners. And they just heat the atmosphere,” said Dmitry Tolmachyov in a Quartz video, embedded below. “And we say, ‘No, the environment! We shouldn’t heat the atmosphere. We have a nine-month long heating season. We should heat our homes. The miners should not be concentrated in one place. They should be in various places, in private homes. The technology allows it nowadays.”