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False Economy

Yes, today is the day that we all “spring forward”. The theory at least is that we are lowering our use of energy. Indeed, they do call it “Daylight Savings Time”, and it isn’t daylight we are saving, it is (supposedly) energy. With the high cost of energy, that could be a good thing.

Except that there is almost no evidence that DST saves any energy at all, and even some studies that show that it wastes energy.

Even if once upon a time DST saved energy — by not requiring people to use home lighting until one hour later in the summer — the advent of air conditioning more than cancelled out that savings. After all, air conditioning uses far more energy than lighting.

DST can also be bad for us. One study showed that on the Monday immediately after DST starts, heart attacks increase by 25%. In addition, traffic accidents increase, probably because of losing an hour of sleep.

So why do we keep doing it? I’m a pragmatist. Even if DST once helped save energy, it is an idea whose time has come and gone. As an article in The Atlantic puts it, DST is now wasteful, unnecessary, and even dangerous.

But for now, please be careful out there Monday morning.



  1. Anonymous wrote:

    I don’t hate DST as much as I hate changing. If they wanted to just keep it one way I would be happy. The older I get, the harder the adjustment is.

    Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 8:51 am | Permalink
  2. il-08 wrote:

    Don’t be a hater, I like DST, I like having more sunshine in the evening and would prefer it if we kept the hours that way all the time.

    Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 9:39 am | Permalink
  3. Z wrote:

    I keep seeing this argument. 1. DST has never had anything to do with saving energy other than as an after the fact throw in contention. 2. It has everything to do with lengthening evening daylight so that we have more time for leisure activities (and will spend more money on them). 3. The studies cited have their limits and are repeatedly over-generalized by others. 4. The only significant reason we continue to flip back and forth (rather than just go permanently to DST) is school start times and not wanting to have elementary school kids “walk” to school in the dark.

    Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 10:43 am | Permalink
  4. Westomoon wrote:

    Maybe how one feels about DST depends on how far north one lives.

    When I lived in DC, I considered it stupid. Now that I live up at the Canadian border, I think it’s wonderful. If it weren’t for DST, the solar day at midsummer would start at 3 am!

    Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 10:45 am | Permalink
  5. David Freeman wrote:

    I’m for eliminating ‘Spring forward’ but I like the extra hour from ‘Fall back’. Heck, I’d like to set the clock back one hour every day – sort of a mini Groundhog Day – 24 steps forward and one step back each day.

    Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 11:17 am | Permalink
  6. Iron Knee wrote:

    I should make it clear, I don’t care what time it is. Whether or not we stay on permanent DST or standard time doesn’t matter to me. It is the change that bothers me.

    I lived in Canada for a while, and also in Northern England (which was significantly further north than where I lived in Canada). Both times I would have loved to not have DST (or “summertime” as they call it in Britain).

    Z, it was originally enacted during wartime as a way to save energy. Maybe it now it is kept because of businesses that make money from our leisure activities, but once upon a time it was about energy, and as recently as 2005 it was lengthened purely in the name of energy savings. Do any elementary school kids walk to school any more?

    Sunday, March 8, 2015 at 1:46 pm | Permalink
  7. Michael wrote:

    My sister-in-law used to live in the Miami area, and (according to her) many there hated and feared the spring forward. In the weeks after the change, it was normally dark until 7:15-7:30 while kids were standing outside waiting on school buses and there have apparently been cases where kids were hit by cars during that time. Whether that’s different than it is at other times of the year, I’m not sure.

    Monday, March 9, 2015 at 7:54 am | Permalink
  8. Anonymous wrote:

    Ah, when you retire, you pick your own time. I don’t like Daylight savings so I don’t do it. My time doesn’t change. 11 a.m. doctor’s appointments are 10 a.m. in my book. Otherwise, I just do my own thing.

    Monday, March 9, 2015 at 1:48 pm | Permalink
  9. redjon wrote:

    Z, we just switched TO daylight savings time, making it exactly one hour DARKER for kids on their way to school.

    Monday, March 9, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink