Daylight Savings Time 2013: Does It Save Energy?

Daylight savings times 2013 ends this weekend, November 3rd, but really, does it save energy?

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, we’ve taken a look at a bit of the history of daylight savings time.

Daylight savings time is all about energy conservation, predominantly gaining more “night light”. This extra daylight supposedly makes the need for electricity less during the summer, leading to less fuel demand.

But why is Arizona the only state in the country that doesn’t observe daylight savings time? Daylight savings has gone on for 100 years, but in 1973 a federal law was put in place to deal with oil shortages. Arizona immediately asked for, and was given an exemption. Arizona’s reasoning: extreme heat. If Arizona were to observe daylight savings time, the sun would be out until 9 pm, and the heat would be there right along with it.

According to the state at the time, there were distinct groups both for and against the move:

“Drive-in theaters, the parents of small children, the bars, the farmers and those who do business with California were against Daylight Saving time while power companies, the evening golfers, the late risers, and the people with business interests on the Eastern seaboard were for it.”

Obviously those opposed to enacting daylight savings time had some sound reasoning going on, and won. The Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona does follow daylight savings time. However, the reservation stretches across four different states. The energy argument lost in Arizona, where the heat would offset any benefit from extra daylight, so what about the rest of the country?

In 2009, Michigan State University published a study by the American Psychological Association showing that daylight savings time can have detrimental effects on the American workplace:

“Following [the start and end of DST], employees slept 40 min less, had 5.7 percent more workplace injuries, and lost 67.6 percent more work days because of injuries than on non phase change days.”

The study focused on mining injuries from 1983 to 2006. So, while inconclusive for the larger whole, the study does pose an interesting question, what does daylight savings time really do?

Some recent studies suggest the theory might be good, but the reality might really result in increased use of electricity. With modern changes in home heating and cooling usage, the perceived “savings” has actually turned out in some cases to cost more than it saves.

But while state sized studies have suggested that energy consumption goes up instead of down because of daylight savings time, other studies have looked at the nationwide impacts of DST. The US Department of Energy looked at the effects of daylight savings time on national energy consumption, checking in with 67 electric utilities. That study showed a savings of about 0.5 percent per day, or 1.3 trillion watt hours. This sounds small, but impressive energy savings could power 100,000 houses for an entire year. Included in that study was not only residential power use, but also commercial.

So at the end of the day, it looks like the jury is still out with some good evidence that it really does save energy on a national level. It’s also equally obvious we need to study the effects of daylight savings time more than we have previously to figure it out.

What about you; do you love or hate daylight savings time?