How the carbon tax will affect education

I know there’s a political debate about the carbon tax, and I don’t want to go near that. But I did see the stories earlier this week (eg this one on Sky News) that the carbon tax is going to increase costs for NSW public sector organisations by nearly $50M, and figures quoted that the 2,177 public schools in NSW will each face an increased energy bill of $9,100 a year. And I guess similar figures will hit all schools, nationally.

What will be the impact of carbon tax on education?

The biggest impact is likely to be that senior managers will be looking at the energy bill going up, and start to ask more questions about where all that energy is going. From an ICT perspective, I think there are a couple of key areas to consider:

  • How to reduce the energy cost of your user devices
  • How to reduce the energy cost of your ICT infrastructure

How to reduce the energy cost of your user devices

With the rapid rise of ICT devices across education, there’s been a matching rise in energy use. For example, the DER student laptop scheme, with 850,000 new laptops, will have added a couple of megawatts of power demand each day.

Some schools have wised up to this, and encourage their students to charge their laptops at home overnight, rather than in school.

By switching to laptops from desktops, you’ll already be making a saving, as laptops use significantly less power than a desktop (which could save $100+ a year per device). There’s an interesting table here which gives you a quick snapshot of energy usage of different laptops and desktops used at the University of Pennsylvania.

For some ideas of what you can do about your student and staff computers, take a look at this previous blog post about reducing IT energy usage.

How to reduce the energy cost of your ICT infrastructure

And then there’s the always-on devices, like servers, switches, routers and all kinds of gubbins connected to your network. Each of those devices with pretty flashing lights that you see once the lights are off are all gobbling power.

There’s a bunch of case studies which look at different ways that education institutions have saved money on their infrastructure (for example, there are eight listed in this ‘Reducing IT costs in education’ article that cumulatively saved $4m across energy, hardware and running costs), and depending on your infrastructure size, you might find some other good advice here:


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