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How does daylight saving time save energy

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Clocks are going back one hour to signal the end of Daylight Saving Time (DST) this weekend (2am on Sunday, November 3 to be precise), but that means more than just a bit more light in the mornings. DST has been implemented sporadically throughout history with the goal of saving energy. but much of what you think you know about DST is probably apocryphal at best.

The Department of Energy claims the 4-week DST extension that started a few years ago has saved an additional 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours of energy annually, which is enough to power 100,000 homes for a year. That works out to a 0.5% reduction in energy consumption each day of DST.

Sounds like a pretty good idea right? So where’d it all start?

We’ve been fed the story of Daylight Saving Time originally being proposed by Benjamin Franklin, but that tall tale comes from a satirical 1784 letter published in the Journal de Paris in which Franklin proposes something akin to Daylight Saving Time. However, it was merely used as a way to call the French lazy.

Yeah, Benjamin Franklin pretty much did what he wanted back then.

The next time DST came up was over 100 years later when it was proposed as a legitimate way to save energy in England and New Zealand. Germany was the first nation to implement DST during World War I to reduce energy consumption. The US adopted Daylight Saving Time briefly during both World Wars, but several states kept it up until the confusion forced Congress to pass the Uniform Time Act in 1966 to standardize the use of DST. It is now used in all US states except Hawaii and Arizona.

Daylight Saving Time gives you an extra hour of natural light in the evening, decreasing the use of electrical lights. This is where all the alleged energy savings come from, but some studies have pointed to the increased use of air conditioning as a counterbalance to reduced lighting. More waking hours while it’s light out could mean more time with the AC on.

Most surveys of the public show little support for DST, but it’s only a hassle twice a year and no one has gotten sufficiently infuriated to do away with it yet.

Category: Personal Finance

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