Monday, March 15, 2010

Is Daylight Savings Time really necessary?

Posted By on Mon, Mar 15, 2010 at 2:55 PM

Cranky today? You aren't alone. Feel free to blame the theft of your missing hour of sleep on Benjamin Franklin, who first suggested Day Light Savings time in 1784 as a way to save candles. (Way to go, smarty pants!)

However, even today, adjusting our clocks is seen as a way to save energy. OK, well, that depends on who you ask.

Officially, at least since 2005, Daylight Savings Time is part of the Energy Policy Act, even though it's still not observed by Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and by most of Arizona (although the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona does adjust their clocks).

The idea is, in the fall, if we go to bed an hour earlier we turn off our energy sucking lights and electronics an hour earlier too, thus saving scant amounts of electricity. We also get off the roads earlier, saving gasoline and oil. Conversely, in the spring, if we get up an hour earlier as the days lengthen, we'll be able to enjoy more daylight hours and won't need as much electricity then, either, because we'll, ideally, be outside working or playing as long as the sun lights the sky.

The California Energy Commission conducted a study to see if these ideas about energy conservation are accurate. So did Indiana, with the help of Duke Energy. Now the federal goverment's gearing up for a study of their own since the two states' studies disagree about whether or not energy is actually being saved due to our time tinkering. (California reports a marginal savings and Indian reports more energy was consumed.)

Though, if you ask me, the concept seems kind of goofy on the surface since nothing we do on earth is actually going to change the number of daylight hours we enjoy on any given day. We, you see, are beholden to the sun — not the other way around. Plus, I don't know about you, but the clock doesn't dictate how much energy I consume — I do — and the sun's position in the sky makes no difference to me most days since my office isn't in my garden, it's under a roof.

With that said, scant energy savings is still energy savings and, accumulated over time, it can really add up. So, if — and only if — Daylight Savings Time actually helps the average yahoo conserve energy then I'm for it. All the same, I sincerely doubt an expensive federal study is necessary and, frankly, I'd much prefer people learn how to conserve energy via education rather than government clock-adjusting mandates. But, that's just my opinion which is, admittedly, tainted by a slight lack of sleep.

What do you think? Is Daylight Savings Time antiquated and worthless, or is it a great way to conserve energy?

If you'd like to trip down memory lane with Daylight Savings Time, here's an interesting Web site on it's history.

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