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I would have thought most of the heat from standby devices is in the transformer would be more wasteful than an electric heater cos they wouldn't transfer heat to the human body very well.
Turning the question vaguely on its head: Wouldn't it be nice if all the world's electric space-heaters (or water heaters, I guess) were actually micro-servers contributing to the internet and its 'Cloud'! 
If you ran a stirling engine from the gas and used the rejected heat for room heating you would get the best possible power generation, just from making use of the reject heat. Would still use energy to do so, but would at least not just dump it to the outside. Rather like running a greenhouse with hot water from a power plant, it is a good synergy.
one might get back a couple times the amount of energy that one would otherwise get from just burning the fuel to generate heat.
Not without breaking the second law of thermodynamics you won't.The energy in the fuel is the amount of heat it can produce.
If I burn the Diesel in open air, do I get 38KW heat?And burning it in the engine, I only get 28KW heat, and 10KW electricity (including exhaust heat and engine cooling)?
Some great discussion here, thanks folks!The other thing to consider is what happens in summer - if you rely on air conditioning rather than just opening windows, will you be paying extra to get rid of the heat produced by these devices? For how much of the year do we need the heating on?