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DST Increases Energy Consumption

I have a deep-rooted aversion to Daylight Saving Time, that ritual where we screw with the clocks in the Spring and the Fall to get people out of bed earlier so that, originally, New York stock brokers could get an hour of trading in before the London exchange closed, and later so that people may have more time to spend money on leisure sports in the afternoon. Farmers and parents find it a bear, since animals and children don’t really appreciate having their schedules re-adjusted.

But really, it saves energy! Look! Science!


According to a new study of energy consumption in Indiana, Daylight Saving Time actually results in increased energy consumption, especially in the Fall. Remember when the Bush Administration extended Daylight Saving Time a few years back as a magical way to conserve energy without actually doing anything? (I remember, because I had to patch servers to keep their clocks consistent with Congressional legislation.) The study finds that DST increases energy consumption the most in the fall!

Estimates of the overall increase are approximately 1 percent, but we find that the effect is not constant throughout the D.S.T. period. D.S.T. causes the greatest increase in electricity consumption in the fall, when estimates range between 2 and 4 percent.

These findings are consistent with simulation results that point to a tradeoff between reducing demand for lighting and increasing demand for heating and cooling. We estimate a cost of increased electricity bills to Indiana households of $9 million per year. We also estimate social costs of increased pollution emissions that range from $1.7 to $5.5 million per year. Finally, we argue that the effect is likely to be even stronger in other regions of the United States.

Thank you, New York Times Freakonomics Blog!!

Basically, the gist of it is if people get home earlier in the afternoon, they save money on lighting, but they fire up the AC or the heat. Back in WWII when people had more incandescent lighting than climate control, DST may actually have saved a bit of energy.

My main objection is that monkeying with the clocks is a very messy way to implement a notion to “wake up earlier in the summer and enjoy the morning” but I’m a crank.

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Categories: About Me, Featured, News and Reaction, Politics

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