As winter approached, Dan van der Ster worried his annual utility bill would skyrocket since his family of five was homebound with the pandemic. It hardly budged. While the electric portion shot up in 2020, the gas-heat expense surprisingly declined. He thinks that’s largely thanks to the beefy new computer he uses to mine cryptocurrency and on which his teenage son plays videogames. Mr. Van der Ster, a 40-year-old engineer who lives in France near the Switzerland border, now has a new concern: “It’s getting too warm.” With the health crisis keeping people home, computer gamers and bitcoin miners are taking greater advantage of a cold-weather perk. The more they use their high-powered machines, the more heat the devices give off.
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