What Power Usage Efficiency (PUE) Really Means for Data Centers

Since energy is the largest cost for data center facilities, it’s important to measure Power Usage Efficiency (PUE) to optimize power usage. Learn more about PUE and 5 easy tips to improve it.

Data center operators and facility managers are facing new challenges in energy efficiency, power outages, and rack space. But with energy as the largest cost for data centers, the need to optimize power to avoid big costs is greater than ever. Additionally, not only are tenants demanding greater energy efficiency and renewable energy facilities, large capital providers are putting greater importance on reducing their impact on the environment. So, it’s no wonder data center operators and managers are struggling to keep up with the growing industry demands while reducing costs.

At Verity Commercial, our project and construction managers work with data center operators and managers to carry out projects objectives well beyond the end of a project. This includes improving facility operations and energy to create a positive experience for data center operators and their tenants and end-users. One way to improve operations, costs, and power usage is by measuring Power Usage Efficiency (PUE).

Read on to learn about PUE and 5 simple tips you can make now to enhance energy efficiency, improve your PUE, and reduce overall facility costs.

How to Calculate PUE

We’re all familiar with the saying, “what gets measured gets done”. Meaning, measuring gives you a base line of information to make better decisions for improvements. PUE is the energy efficiency measurement for data centers and helps operators and managers recognize where improvements are needed.

The formula for PUE is the total amount of energy used entering a data center facility divided by the energy delivered to IT equipment inside the data center:

PUE = Total Data Center Facility Power / IT Equipment Power

PUE ranges from 1 to 3 with 1 being the best possible rating. If PUE was 1 that means 100% of the power in the data center is used to power just the IT equipment. The most recent survey conducted by Uptime Institute of 900 data centers and service providers revealed PUE globally has decreased significantly since 2011, from 1.8 in 2011 to 1.53 in 2018. While that’s great, the survey also showed both outages and outage severity has increased in the last year. Revealing, the data center industry still has more work ahead of them to improve both PUE and outage rates.

5 Tips to Improve PUE

PUE can improve facility efficiency, decrease costs, and reduce your carbon footprint. Rather than investing more money in less efficient power systems use these 5 tips to improve your PUE

1. Implement measuring PUE as standard practice ­– PUE needs to be measured often and throughout year. It’s extremely important to measure PUE during seasonal changes as weather will affect the cooling and power distribution within a data center facility.

2. Use water and air-side economizers to cool facility – Find the largest cost savings by minimizing the use of traditional chillers to cool your data center. Use evaporating water, cooling towers, or outside cool air to remove heat instead.

3. Increase the temperature – Check with your manufacturer but most IT equipment can operate at slightly higher temperatures than the standard 70°F.

4. Control air flow – Dependable unit containment and enclosures can help minimize hot and cold air from mixing. For example, you can reduce cooling costs just by installing curtains or Plexiglas panels to keep cold air from mixing with hot air exhausted from the backs of servers.

5. Improve power distribution within the facility – Reducing energy losses from power distribution units (PDUs) and uninterruptable power supply (UPS) systems by using more efficient and “smart” PDU’s and UPS systems.

Power usage is the biggest cost for data centers. PUE can help you save money in operations and capital. Plus, with greater industry demands for renewable energy and energy efficiency facilities, PUE can help you exceed in reducing your carbon footprint.

Are you looking for other ways improve your data center facility? Contact Verity Commercial today. We can help you find other cost- and energy-effective solutions for your next data center project.


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Uptime Institute: The Average PUE is 1.8