To Daylight Savings or Not To Daylight Savings... That is Today's Question?


Photo via: Paradigm

Daylight Savings Time (D.S.T.) is coming up, March 8th, 2009, so don't forget to set your clocks forward this Sunday (Spring Forward, as they say)!

Some people love the notion of the time change and others hate it. It has both its good points and bad points, I won't even dare argue with that. It does indeed bring more light through the prime time evening hours of the spring, summertime, and fall, but what is up for argument, is whether or not the convenience is worth the "Savings". However this years economic slump brings another consideration to the age old D.S.T. controversy...The History of Daylight Savings
There have been a number of studies conducted over the years which have shown that there in fact is no "Savings" what-so-ever involved in the time change. The theory began once upon a time ago by Benjamin Franklin as a method to conserve candles, then appeared again in World War War I and II to conserve electricity, then once more during the Arab oil embargo of the 1970's. The theory behind it every time it has implemented, is that by extending the daylight hours, you are effectively limiting the necessity for light and therefore reducing the amount of energy used. Seemed to makes sense, and in fact, during the earlier portions of history, there might have been some truth to it.

Today's world however is a bit different. One of the biggest changes is our high-tech heating and cooling systems which do a great job at keeping us comfortable throughout the year. The problem with this when combined with daylight savings, is researchers in Indiana have found that the savings that may occur in energy from the reduced necessity for artificial light, is countered by the increased need for either more cooling in the summer or more heating in the spring and winter.

How much of a trade-off is this? Well about 1 percent more electricity (billions of dollars) is used according to studies conducted by Indiana researchers. But we have only just scratched the surface. The other affect that the time change has over the American public in the spring and summer, is it forces them to travel outside of their homes more often, which translates into more gasoline usage. The idea of more gas usage during Daylight Savings is nothing new, and in fact the oil industry has been aware of this since the 1930's and therefore is a big promoter of it.

Present Day D.S.T.
It gets a bit more confusing however as we get into modern day economics, as research suggests that extended daylight hours corresponds with more barbecues, more golfing, and yes, more shopping. All these daily functions are said to boost the economy, which is why in 2005, Congress passed the Energy Act of 2005, which extends Daylight Savings one month by starting it a month earlier in the spring and a week later in the fall.

Now the question is, knowing what we know today, is Daylight Savings still a worthy tradition that we should continue, or is it yesterdays news and needs to be done away with? We've asked this question before and heard a lot of votes to get rid of it, but with the nations economy in its desperate need of a boost, do you think this time around it might actually be worth the slight nudge it may offer our economy?

More daylight savings articles
Stop Daylight Savings and End Global Warming
TreeHugger Reader Published in Newspaper
Daylight Savings Time Could Be Costing Billions Yearly in Electricity
You Can Spring Forward, But You Won't Save Energy
Time Changes, the Silent Pedestrian Killer

Tags: Electricity | Energy | Energy Efficiency

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