March 5, 2008 For decades, conventional wisdom has held that daylight-saving time reduces energy use. Now a university study of a unique situation in Indiana has provided compelling evidence challenging that view. Daylight savings may actually waste energy.
The Wall Street Journal is running a story on a study that unambiguously concludes that Daylight Saving Time not only doesn't save any energy, it actually wastes it and costs more. The study mirrors recent findings in an Australian university and it's a big shame because the concept first championed by Benjamin Franklin more than 200 years ago is now not just conventional wisdom but in widespread usage.
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Last year the US switched to summer time, three weeks earlier than usual and added another week at the other end to cut fuel consumption and help the environment. The concept is that electricity demand falls in the evening because of the extra hour of usable daylight.
DST was signed into law with the Energy Policy Act and was expected to save US$4.4bn in energy bills over 15 years and avoid the need for three electric power plants. So someone has done their sums wrong - either the Government has unknowingly destroyed enough resources to feed a third world nation, or the new studies are wrong.
There are of course, many other factors to consider in this equation – there are documented social benefits to daylight-saving time such as more recreation time and increased economic activity, and others that claim it results in less crime and even less traffic accidents.