Saving Daylight

March 14, 2013

The challenge of waking up has been particularly acute this week.

It seems as though Daylight Saving Time has come especially early this year.  This blogger’s aging body has registered a protest by refusing to function at anything close to its usual speed.

Presumably, productivity has been affected not only at Kowal Communications, but throughout corporate America, as well as in other countries that follow this barbaric ritual of welcoming spring by moving clocks forward an hour.

DST was tolerable enough back in the days when the great leap forward took place in April.  But changing the clocks even before St. Patrick’s Day has arrived is inhumane.  As much as we enjoy blaming the Obama Administration for all that is wrong with the world, it was President George W. Bush who signed the Energy Policy Act into law in 2005.  Count it as an L for W.

The idea behind it was sound enough.  If DST saves energy and reduces automobile accidents, why not make the time change earlier and save even more energy and have even fewer automobile accidents?

However, the “saving” that results from Daylight Saving has long been suspect.  Some studies have shown that we consume more energy in the form of higher heating bills than we save in the form of lighting as a result of DST.

The Department of Energy studied the effects of the Energy Policy Act and found that it reduced electricity consumption for the year by 0.03%.  Considering the margin of error in such a study and the potential for greater consumption of home heating oil, there is no net benefit and may be a net cost.

The Los Angeles Times reported that heart attacks, traffic collisions and workplace accidents are more common the day after we wind our clocks forward than on other days.

Wikipedia, meanwhile, cites a dozen or so studies that cite the impact of DST on everything from retail sales to farming to consumption of gas.  Taken as a whole, it’s clear that DST doesn’t have huge impact for good or bad.  It also proves that many people have nothing better to do than to conduct studies.

The idea of “saving” anything is to produce a long-term gain.  If we rise an hour earlier for half of the year, our net return should be greater than being able to rise an hour later for half of the year.  It’s not clear that it is.

To paraphrase Jim Croce, you can’t save time in a bottle.  So can’t we at least go back to starting DST in April?



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