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article imageOp-Ed: Should Daylight Savings Time Be Dropped?

By Bob Ewing     Nov 24, 2008 in Lifestyle
Does daylight Savings Time actually accomplish what is was originally meant to; that is save energy; some experts say no.
There are over 70 countries around the world that move between standard time and daylight time. Some people believe that the reason behind daylight savings time in the United States, for example is related to agriculture and crops.
However, in The United States at least, daylight time has always been a policy meant to save energy. As Benjamin Franklin argued, if people moved up their summer schedules by an hour, they could live by “sunshine rather than candles” in the evenings.
During World wars 1 and II energy conservation was the motivation for daylight time during as it was during the oil embargo of the 1970s, and it remains so today. In fact, there has been little scientific evidence to suggest daylight time actually helps us cut back on electricity use.
A study was undertaken in Indiana, where daylight time was instituted statewide only in 2006. Prior to that year, daylight time was in effect in just a handful of counties. This situation provided an unique, natural experiment to measure the overall effect on residential electricity consumption.
It was possible to compare the amount of energy used by households in the late-adopting counties during the two years before they switched to daylight time with the amounts they used during the year afterward — while using counties that always practiced daylight time as a control group.
What was found when this experiment was carried out was daylight time caused a 1 percent overall increase in residential electricity use, though the effect varied from month to month. The greatest increase occurred in late summer and early fall, when electricity use rose by 2 percent to 4 percent.
Daylight time costs about $9 million for the whole state of Indiana households and an an average of $3.29 a year in higher electricity bills for individual households. The experiment calculated the health and other social costs of increased pollution emissions at $1.7 million to $5.5 million per year.
Daylight time reduces demand for household lighting and it increases demand for heating in the early spring and late fall (in the mornings) and, even more important, for cooling on summer evenings. Benjamin Franklin did not have air-conditioners to consider.
It is possible that in regions of the United States where demand for air-conditioning is greater than in Indiana, this spike in cooling costs will be even greater.
Arizona does not practice daylight time.
If President-elect Barack Obama eliminated daylight time this act would be in tune with his stated goals of conserving resources, saving money, promoting energy security and reducing climate change.
Perhaps if daylight savings time remains it needs to be done to enjoy an extra bit of summer evening sun rather than as an energy saver.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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