Friday, March 09, 2007

Springing Forward

How much time do we really save with Daylight Savings Time? Personally, I do not experience any “savings” whatsoever.

I do appreciate that extra hour of time in the Fall when clocks are set back one hour. I wait almost a full day before actually making the change, following the old time all through Sunday. As I move from one activity to another I revel in the knowledge that I will have a full extra hour of personal time waiting for me at the end of the day. Yet in the Spring, when clocks are turned forward one hour, I cannot help but feel cheated. It is as if an entire day has been yanked out from under me.

This year the start date has been moved up by two weeks. So instead of Springing Forward the first week-end in April, clocks are to be changed mid-March. This move means two more weeks of Daylight Savings Time each year.

Is the time shift so beneficial that we need two more weeks of it?

Congress brought us this gift through the Standard Time Act passed in 1918, which set the standard times zones we still use today and provided for spring and fall clock adjustments for “daylight saving time.” World War II and then the energy crisis in the mid-70s triggered observance on a national level, although local jurisdictions are still allowed to take a pass. Arizona has consistently kept the hands of its clocks steadily on standard time.

Popular thinking is that setting clocks forward an hour helps reduce energy use. The seminal study that prompted nationwide observance during the energy crisis was completed in 1975 by the Department of Energy could be saved per day through the time shift. The demand for electricity for lighting our homes follows when we go to bed and get up. In the average household, 25% of electricity use is for lighting and small appliances like televisions and stereos.

The addition of two extra weeks of daylight saving time in the year is expected to add just that much more to the annual energy savings. Some scientists have questioned the math under present economic conditions. The
California Energy Commission published its study, Electricity Savings from Early Daylight Saving Time in February 2007. The study concluded that “there is no clear evidence that electricity will be saved from the earlier start to daylight saving time on March 11, 2007…” The study does concede that daylight saving time does lower peak load requirements and therefore might lower capacity requirements.

While I really do not like having an hour stolen from me in March, I may just wait to have it paid back to me in November. The only alternative is to move to Arizona where it is so hot it does not really matter whether clocks are set ahead or not.

Neither the author of the Small Cap Copy web log, Crystal Equity Research nor its affiliates have a beneficial interest in the companies mentioned herein.

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