Saturday, March 8, 2008

Daylights-Saving Time -- What are we saving?

Daylight-savings time takes effect Sunday at 2:00 am springing the clocks ahead to 3:00 am.  Growing up I always was excited about daylight-savings time, when we got to spring ahead with the change of season. However, now that the Bush Administration changed the date to the second Sunday in March, rather than the first Sunday in April, it all just seems like another day with an extra hour.

In 2005, Congress amended the Energy Policy Act, extending daylight-savings time by one month by beginning earlier and ending later, in hopes to conserve energy and help the environment. However, a recent study conducted by University of California-Santa Barbara economics professor Matthew Kotchen and Ph.D. candidate Laura Grant, shows that springing forward may actually waste energy.  

Waste energy, how can that be?  If we have more daylight, there should be less demand on energy right.  We turn our lights on later, no?

Well, Kotchen and Grant studied energy use in nearly every household southern Indiana from 2004 to 2006 (7 million monthly meter readings for 3 years).  Most counties in Indiana did not observe daylight-savings until 2o06.  They discovered that residents that lived in counties that adopted daylight-savings used 1 t0 4 % more energy per year.  They found that the reduce of the cost of lighting in the afternoons was offset by hight air conditioning costs on hot afternoons and increase heating cost on cool mornings. 

So what is the cost of daylight-savings time according to Kotchen.  Well, a recent interview published in USA Today, Kotchen stated, "The change in cost to Indiana residents in terms of increased electricity demand is just over $3 per household per year. Over the whole population, that comes out to $8.6 million a year.  Another element is the social (and economic) cost of pollution emissions.  Having to generate more energy for electricity means there is going to be more pollution.  We estimate those cost are between $1.6 million and $5.3 million per year in increased pollution costs."

Kotchen admits that more studies need to be done to evaluate the cost to the entire nation and that in some areas it just may save energy.  In addition, he says that before we scrap the increased daylight we must take many other factors into consideration like increased leisure time. 

There are so many arguments for it and against it.  Teachers do not like it because many kids go to school when it is still dark.  Oil companies love it because it keeps people on the roads driving.  Retailers and merchants make more money during daylight-savings because it gives people more time to shop after work.  However, the silliest and one I do not really understand I read about in the San Francisco Chronicle. Cows do not like it. According to an organic dairy farmer in California, it is very hard for the cows to adjust.  Can they tell time?  Is hard for them to change their watches?  

What do you think about it?   


brenda said...

well, where i live in arizona they decided to be cynical about the whole thing a long time ago and never bought into daylight savings time.......or they never knew how to change the time on clocks.

iceman said...

Daylight Savings Time is stupid!

Why is the U.S. still switching their clocks by an hour twice a year? This is not a farming society so we're going to use electric lights indoors regardless of what time it is.

This outdated practice just causes many problems with computers and also with people. It's painful to have to wake up an hour earlier to take the kids to school in the dark, then at bedtime the kids don't go to sleep because there is full sunlight coming in through the windows.

Most people are in an office or at school most of the day so we'll be using artificial light regardless of the clock. For those who work outside in the northern hemisphere, they're getting longer days already in the summer without having to change the clock.

So, really nobody wins - Daylight Savings Time should be abolished! Especially "Spring forward" ... we can do one more "Fall back" to get an extra hour of sleep and then leave the clocks alone. Is there a political group or grassroots organization I can join or send money to get this change in the Constitution?