Is Daylight Saving Time Worth The Energy?

Daylight Saving Time vs. Standard Time

Daylight Saving Time vs. Standard Time

If you’re a parent of young children, you already understand the steep emotional and psychological costs of switching from Daylight Saving Time (DST) to Standard Time. This year, it took us a month to get Frances to re-adjust to the earlier schedule and stop waking up an hour before the alarm clock went off. I’m not sure who it was harder on; the parents who had to get up extra early each day, or Franci that couldn’t seem to make up for the lost sleep during her nap.

Environmental Impact

Personal issues aside, what about the environmental impact of changing the clocks twice a year? It turns out to be a bit of a wash, and very much dependent upon where you live. While you might not turn your lights on until later in the day, residents in southern locations are more likely to turn on their AC when they get home and leave it running for more hours. Despite the fact that DST was implemented to promote energy conservation, it no longer achieves that result because of the proliferation of AC units in residential locations. Back in the 1970’s, studies showed that the country’s electricity usage was down one percent per day during DST months, but 45 years later, it is actually up 1-4% due to cooling expenses.

Economic Impact

Let’s not forget about the economic impact of the changing time. While most of the American and European Countries observe DST, the majority of Asia and Africa does not. This means the whole world has to keep track of who is on what time and when, costing the airline industry around $147 million. The stock market, retail and TV industries take a huge blow as well.  There are indications that traffic safety increases with the Daylight Saving Time and crime decreases, both of which save communities money.

Health Impact

Our health suffers with the time changes too. A study conducted in 2008 suggests that the incidence of heart attacks, workplace injuries, illness and low-productivity incline steeply in the days following the time change. I know that I’m cranky for a few days in the fall, not just because of the lost sleep but because of the lost daylight in the evening. Additionally, people tend to be more physically active in the evening and watch less TV during the months of DST.

At the end of the day, the biggest cost seems to be in the switching of time. It’s hard on businesses and our health, costing both industries millions. The “Energy Savings” is negligible, so that isn’t something I’m worried about. If we just eliminated the time change entirely, everyone might be able to rest a little easier.

But which time do we choose?

I personally prefer Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time. If I had to choose between the two, I’d chose the one that gives us lighter evening hours year-round. I’m more productive after dinner and am more likely to stay active instead of lounging around before bedtime. Not to mention, we are already on DST 8 months of the year, so it wouldn’t be that much of a change to switch to DST permanently.

What’s your opinion on the time change? Do you think it should be phased out? If so, should we stay on Daylight Saving Time or Standard Time year round?

Comments

  1. The time change is definitely not worth it. It’s hard on the body and extra hard on those with small children. My daughter was cranky today morning and her schedule will be off for several days.

  2. Every year I read loads of articles calling to get rid of Daylight Saving Time. What?! Why? We need to get rid of switching back to Standard Time! I often wonder if most people who say they hate DST actually hate ST but don’t realize it. Thanks for the informative and fresh new take on the subject, Michele!

  3. Michele says:

    Gina, I didn’t realize it was DST that I preferred until last year. I think you are right that it is ST that most people hate. I mean, we’re already on DST for three-quarters of the year, which makes it feel pretty “standard” to me!

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