Past arguments for Daylight savings time was to save energy. But, does Daylight Saving Time (DST) really conserve energy? Recent studies are beginning to shed some light on the efficiency of seasonally changing the clocks. Matthew Kotchen of the University of California, Santa Barbara has been studying the effects of DST on U.S. electricity usage. In 2006 Indiana instituted daylight saving statewide for the first time. (Before then, daylight time confusingly was in effect in just a handful of Indiana’s counties.) Examining electricity usage and billing since the statewide change, Kotchen and his colleague Laura Grant unexpectedly found that daylight time led to a 1 percent overall rise in residential electricity use, costing the state an extra $9 million. The Department of Energy looked at 67 electric utilities across the country and concluded that the four-week extension of DST saved the nation 1.3 trillion watt-hours, or enough to power 100,000 homes for a year. Extending DST or eliminating it all together could further that savings. Eliminating DST could reduce the number of vehicle accidents by enabling more people to drive home in sunlight. Retailers, especially those involved with sports and recreation, have historically argued hardest for extending daylight time. Representatives of the golf industry, for instance, told Congress in 1986 that an extra month of daylight saving was worth up to $400 million annually in extra sales and fees. Even farmers would welcome DST’s demise, which have long opposed it for how it disrupts their schedules. Daylight Savings Time might have made a lot of sense back in the oil shock days of the early 70’s, but since then appliances, vehicles, and utilities have become a lot more efficient. It’s time to end Daylight Savings Time.
Photo Credit: John Vlahakis