Most space heaters run electricity through high resistance wires to toast your toes. The Heatbit mini, however, trains large language models, builds AI for large corporations, or mines crypto while it warms up your home. In so doing, it pays its owners up to $28/month while in use.
“What we really do is zero-energy computing,” says CEO Alex Busarov, who I met at Web Summit in Lisbon recently.
Bitcoin mining and AI training—which has increased one million times over the last seven years—together consume more energy than the entire United Kingdom, Busarov says. All of that goes to waste as heat, which then itself often needs to be cooled in a data or compute center, costing yet more energy.
Heatbit’s solution: run the AI compute distributed in thousands of homes. Aggregate that power to complete significant tasks, and use the previously wasted heat as a desirable end product for cold people. The company says that each kilowatt-hour used for computing in a traditional datacenter costs another .5 kWh to cool. Meanwhile, people are heating their homes or offices with—for the sake of argument—yet another 1 kWh, totalling 2.5 kWh of energy expenditure between the datacenter and the home.
The space heater/AI trainer alternative: just run 1 kWh in a person’s home. Get the heat, skip the cooling, and skip the datacenter too. The net benefit is 60% less energy use. And, if you will, green compute.
“We make the same energy work for you twice,” Busarov says.
In British Columbia, Canada, where I live, we have cheap and clean hydroelectric power, so running the Heatbit would be almost free. While it would cost an estimated $32 for me to run, it would pay me $28 back in compute fees. At average U.S. energy rates, it would cost $40 to run while paying back the same $28.
The unit itself uses 55 5-nanometer chips with 20 billion transistors to run compute tasks and heat your home. It offers a HEPA filter for air purification as well as heating, can be controlled by an app or with an on-device touch display, and comes with a money-back guarantee. It runs at less than 40 decibels of sound, quieter than a fridge, and Heatbit says it will warm up to 400 square feet.
It’s also not cheap, ranging from $800 to $1,000.
At $28 per month, that’s a 28-month payback period at minimum, plus you’re probably not using it during the summer (although it can filter your air then as well). On the other hand, you’d be paying for electricity anyways, and for any other space heater, it’s likely money that you just flush down the metaphorical toilet.
Heatbit started out via a crowdfunding campaign that focused on crypto and sold over $1 million in units. The current unit is more focused on training AI.
One question: what will happen in the summer, when no-one wants to heat up their homes. Busarov plans to address that by selling Heatbits globally, so that there will always be cold people training AI to warm up.
Another question for potential clients: will connectivity to tens of thousands of homes be a challenge? That remains to be seen.