Does Daylight Saving Time Really Conserve Energy?
First used during World War I, Daylight Saving Time was launched in an effort to conserve fuel by increasing the amount of daylight which would thereby reduce the need for artificial light.
Although the theory that the less need for artificial light, the less energy to be used, does indeed sound good, does it really hold true?
According to a 2008 Department of Energy report to Congress, Daylight Saving Time does save energy, but probably not as much as we hoped.
The study found, that the total energy savings throughout the period of Daylight Saving Time add up to 17 Trillion Btu of primary energy consumption, which is only .02 percent of the country’s total use in 2007.
Those calculations are roughly equivalent to that of merely 160,000-some households, which is about the population of Vancouver, Wash.
“There’s so many changes in lifestyle when you change to Daylight Saving Time. It’s really impossible to calculate the exact impact on energy consumption,” Dr. Sam Shelton, who runs the Strategic Energy Research Institute at Georgia Tech, told WXIA-TV of Atlanta.
“You have to make so many assumptions about how patterns change and how the change impacts energy consumption,” adds Dr. Shelton.
Many people can’t stand the change of clocks, and President Warren G. Harding was one of them. If people want more daylight, he said, they should just wake up earlier.
In fact, in 1922, President Harding issued an executive order mandating that all federal employees start work at 8 a.m. rather than at 9.
Although the stated reason for the enactment of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was in order to conserve energy, there may be other additional perks to increased daylight.
Studies show that there are fewer automobile accidents, and that crime rates tend to drop.
A federal study of expanding daylight time in the ’70s found a drop in crime in the District of Columbia of about 10 percent when daylight time is in effect.
Having more of the day lit by sunlight also reduces car crashes, since car accidents tend to spike after dark.
So while the energy savings may be meager at best, there still remains additional benefits of having the daylight remain until a later hour in the day.