Yesterday I set all the clocks ahead an hour. Those that didn’t set themselves, anyway, like the computers’ clocks. And this morning I was up far too early. And next year, it’s going to get worse. Why are we still using daylight saving time?
Is it the fact that daylight saving time saves energy? Or is it the fact that — wait a minute. That’s not a fact.
As it turns out, daylight saving time really doesn’t have all that much impact on U.S. energy consumption.
Spring forward/fall back proponents want you to believe DST was responsible for the United States reducing its oil use by hundreds of thousands of barrels each day during the 1970s energy crisis.
That statistic is the main reason we switch our clocks twice a year. It is a primary reason that Congress said it was extending DST by a month. And of course, it’s not true.
In her 2001 appearance at a congressional hearing, Linda Lawson, an official with the U.S. Department of Transportation explained: “Our 1975 study concluded that daylight saving time might result in electricity savings of 1 percent in March and April, equivalent to roughly 100,000 barrels of oil daily over the two months. . . . Due to the limited data sample, the findings were judged ‘probable’ rather than conclusive.”
Got that? It turns out the great energy-saver is really a guesstimate from an inconclusive study with a small sample size that is over 30 years old. — Washington Times
And if that weren’t enough for you, California, which will adopt any half-baked idea to “save the environment,” whether it does or not, as long as it sounds good, took a look at the issue, too. Guess what they came up with?
In a desperate search for a fix to the state’s electricity crisis in 2001, the California Energy Commission examined (PDF) a variety of time-warping scenarios, like creating double daylight savings time. But instead of implementing this super-duper saving time, the commission actually found “total electricity use would be virtually unchanged” if the state didn’t use DST at all. The report suggested “the lower electric use typically observed after the spring onset of DST (Daylight Saving Time) may be purely the result of the warmer, longer days and not because of the time change.” — Ibid.
Despite that, the government agency’s web site still spouts off the lie that DST saves energy right on the home page, citing that very same DOT wild guess from 1975.
Then they tell me there are fewer traffic accidents because of daylight saving time. And all I can say to that is, with daylight saving time in effect, how can you possibly know what accidents would have happened had it not been in effect? Completely ridiculous.
Maybe, as Reason Foundation president David Nott speculates, it’s because the retail industry wants people to shop later in the evening, and for some reason they need sunlight for this. Some energy policy.
Now there may be other reasons to keep daylight saving time, like being able to continue to get up before sunrise instead of having it already be light out when you roll out of bed in the morning, but the only energy actually being saved is in Arizona, which refuses to use DST because they don’t have to run their air conditioners as much. Or so they tell me. Maybe that’s not true either.