Does daylight saving time bring savings?

In 2007, the dates when we spring forward and fall backward (or lose an hour and then gain an hour) changed with the intention of reducing energy consumption. The general theory was that the change would make people turn their lights on later in the evening, effectively reducing energy consumption. The question is does it actually work?

Although modern daylight saving time (DST) was introduced in theory in 1895 and implemented during the First World War, ancient civilizations adjusted their timekeeping seasonally. They also allowed for more of a change than modern DST does. This article is about this month’s DST change, including the history behind it and the energy conservation goals that changed the annual start and finish dates.

The idea of reducing overall energy consumption with the use of daylight saving time swayed most counties in Indiana to adopt the practice in 2005. The estimated reduction was supposed to save the state’s residents over $7,000,000 in electricity costs each year. Since then, the University of California has studied the presumed positive effect of the change and found that the outcome wasn’t a reduction in energy costs at all, and that it actually increased the amount Indianans were spending on electricity. In fact, Indianans consumed an additional $8,600,000 of electricity, presumably because the increase in daylight also means an increase of hours with higher temperatures. As a result, Indianans came home and turned up their A/C.

The opposing argument is that this will be a short-term (matter of years) trend that will result in Indianans adopting different practices like passive cooling to keep their home cool. From a long-term perspective, an increase can be expected during the period in which people are adapting to the change, and adopting the DST was still the right decision. For argument’s sake, and to make sure you can form a more educated opinion on the practice, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the DST change.

Daylight saving time pros

The list of pros for DST is pretty specific, and it is argued that most of these outcomes could not be achieved without DST:

  1. An increase in physical fitness due to more time spent outdoors.
  2. An increase in natural vitamin D absorption due to additional sun exposure.
  3. Increased productivity due to more daylight hours.
  4. Better sleep patterns (although this one is heavily debated).
  5. Reduced electricity use due to less time with the lights on.
  6. Decreased violent crime levels; reported as a 10–13% reduction by U.S. law enforcement.
  7. Reduction in overall traffic accidents (which is very heavily debated).
  8. Overall increase in voter turnout.

Daylight saving time cons

There are conflicting opinions about the negative effects of daylight saving time. On one hand, an argument has been made that the negative effects are all related to a period of transition that can be dramatically reduced by preparing for the change. However, another school of thought is that the benefits are not worth the semi-annual disruption to daily routines and the increase in related incidents. In fact, in 2005, the same year President Bush decided to extend the DST period, Kazakhstan abolished the practice, citing negative health effects as the cause. Some of the cons include:

  1. Dramatic increase in traffic accidents during the period of adjustment.
  2. Lost productivity during the period of adjustment.
  3. Disrupted sleep patterns and disrupted morning routines during the period of adjustment.
  4. A disruption to religious practices and morning prayers.
  5. An increase in automated process inconsistencies and errors during the change.

Because the majority of our readers live in regions that practice DST, let’s return to the initial topic and discuss whether or not changing the start and finish times of DST in 2007 was a good idea (the decision was actually made in 2005 in the U.S. and 2006 in Canada but was not put in place until 2007). We would love to hear what you think about DST in general, as well as your opinion on the decision to change the start and finish dates. Is the adjustment period worth the outcome, and will the earlier start and later finish to DST have the promised environmental impact?

A really cool interactive reference for more information about daylight saving time with many of the stats discussed above can be found at http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/b.html

Please remember that your posts need to be approved and although we want to post everyone’s opinion, we cannot post those containing offensive and abrasive dialogue.

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe Delahaye March 23, 2012 at 7:02 pm

My personal opinion would be to ignore DST. It is simply not worth the hassle changing clock twice a year. Even as a retired person I find it cumbersome. It is even more frustrating when you have relatives in Europe who did not follow the foolish decision to change the start and finish times of DST. The argument usually made that it was done for the farmers is a fallacy. Farmers get up at the crack of dawn to start their day, no matter if it is DST or not.

Paul Mundy March 23, 2012 at 7:02 pm

I believe that the enactment of daylight savings time is simply for the convenience of the greater population who have been conditioned for decades to view “sleeping in” as a luxury and are in denial to the idea that rising early and being active is not only healthy but essential to our well being. We live on a planet with a natural rhythm cycle of daylight and dark, not to mention the seasonal cycles. Television viewing, the pursuit of leisure activities over fulfillment through rewarding employment, a modern concept of controlling ones environment and physical rhythms despite the dictates of thousand years of human evolution and natural adaptation to environmental cycles contribute to a population that is confused, tired, over extended and suseptible to the rhetoric of pseudo logic that caters to our misconceptions and misguided beliefs. I am not surprised that Indiana’s electricity costs have gone up, not would I be surprised that other arguments for the use of daylight savings time are eventually proved groundless. Unfortunately these reasons have entered the realm of belief as opposed to fact and they will be difficult if not impossible to counteract. We are the authors of our own bedevilment.

john downton March 23, 2012 at 7:05 pm

I din not realize that daylight saving time started in 1895 before my time

Michael March 23, 2012 at 7:27 pm

I love DST.

I have no problem with going to work in the dark – I start before 7:00 am so I start in the dark most of the year anyway.

I really, really like having light in the evening. We walk every day and it’s no fun in the winter when it’s dark. As soon as DST comes in we can walk in daylight. I can do things outside with light.

I love DST and would support year-round DST

Ingrid Cahill March 23, 2012 at 7:30 pm

I would prefer we did not adhere to DST. I prefer the light in the am (now I’m just switching the hour of electricity use from pm to am). It helped me have more energy in the morning to see the sun rising earlier and it was better for my sleep to not have to switch. I find the adjusting not worth any advantages if there are any. I only ever hear people complain about the time change; the only positive thing I ever hear people say is in the fall when we gain one hour of sleep (theoretically) which is probably a good indication that quality and amount of sleep is of high importance to people so it is completely negated in the spring when we lose an hour and have to adjust all over again. The only advantage I had not thought of and learned on this website is the possibility of increased vitamin D intake but my schedule does not change the week after we change time so I don’t really get extra time to play outside and get the extra vitamin D. I imagine that most people still stick to their routine and winter evening activities which for the most part are still taking place indoors.
My vote would be to abandon DST.

Brian Lampert March 23, 2012 at 7:42 pm

At 64 years old, I have never understood or seen the advantage to Daylight Saving Time.

pat colwell March 23, 2012 at 8:21 pm

I think that DST is a terrible health risk and very poor for sleep patterns, especially when
so many adults and children are already sleep deprived. It goes against nature. I think it
should be abolished. I don’t think that people really adjust to the change that DST brings;
I think it is detrimental to physical and psychological health. Actually kids get to stay up
later and that cuts into their sleep time which research is showing is already at a dangerous
level. Small children have a harder time falling asleep as well because of the daylight. I see
no benefits that make it worth while although some businesses, like golf courses, might
benefit financially. Finances should not come before the health of the nation.

Barbara Praught March 23, 2012 at 8:30 pm

No one ever mentions the longer period of daylight is so-o-o-o much better for your mental health.etc .Leave it alone.It is wonderful.

Willy Crypto March 23, 2012 at 8:34 pm

We currently are on DST for 65% of the year! Why don’t we just stay on DST all year long. Isn’t it just as important to save daylight in the winter as it is in the summer?

Barbara Praught March 23, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Longer periods of daylight is so-o-o-o much better for your mental health,long winter periods of dark causes many,many people to be severly depressed.I know many people also say it gives them more energy with more daylight. I love it.

Robert Larocque March 23, 2012 at 8:42 pm

It’s a joke – set one time and stick with it. The costs will not subside with time. People will not change or adjust to it – as if they have enough time for that working 2 jobs to meet the cost of living.
Accidents etc are not worth the cost. And it is a money grabbing game as far as most are concerned.
The cons outweigh the pros no matter what…..

Melanie Marttila March 23, 2012 at 8:42 pm

My 2 pennies …
I don’t believe, in practical application, that DST makes a big difference in the average consumer’s use of energy. If it’s dark, whether in the morning or evening (or both in winter) the lights go on. I don’t think that lights account for a large portion of my energy bill, however. Appliances that need to be on all the time, like the refridgerator, and others that are on demand like television, cable, and computers, account for the preponderance of usage in my household, and those appliances are on regardless of the amount of natural light available.
My personal opinion is that the practice is archaic and many places around the world survive just fine without it.
True energy savings may be realized through other means, such as making more energy efficient appliances, using timers on power bars, and possibly through the use of smart meters (but I think the research has yet to be comprehensive and conclusive with regard to those).
The modern world and the patterns of its citizens’ energy usage has evolved beyond DST. It’s time legislators realized that and turned their time and effort toward programs that will be truly conservative with regard to energy.
Thanks for the opportunity,
Mel

Annie Chapman March 23, 2012 at 9:33 pm

I think the whole idea of DST is just plain silly. Not sure where you save electricity, what you don’t use at one end you use at the other. Why can’t we all be like Saskatchewan?
My body clock hates it in the spring and downright rebels in the fall.

Sandra Rumfeldt March 23, 2012 at 10:19 pm

I would prefer NOT to have daylight saving.

John Jones March 23, 2012 at 10:48 pm

There’s an old N. American Indian expression, “Only a white man could come with an idea like, ‘if you cut one foot off the bottom of a blanket and sew it onto the top of the blanket, you’ll make the blanket longer’”.
Compare the negatives to the positive aspects of DST and it’s apparent that the Indian expression has merit. Things that benefit our health will (or should) always outweigh things that benefit our energy consumption.
With DST, logic and reason do not prevail!
John

Gabe Schulhoff March 24, 2012 at 1:21 am

I think DST is a very bad idea. As far as I know, Switzerland never adopted it because of the impact on the time of milking the cows! Serious disruption in the daily habits of the animals! And what about train and air traffic scheduling issues?! – I, myself, was one time in Europe on a train that stood one full hour in a random station to get back into schedule…

Sunny Wong March 24, 2012 at 1:46 am

I would say keep the DST all year long, no matter what there will be always pros & cons, then why bother to make the changes twice a year? & let everyone suffer?

Joe Isley March 24, 2012 at 3:22 am

Personally – i wish they would leave the clock on DST all year round — going back to Standard time — i never sleep well.

Tim Haitma March 24, 2012 at 7:46 am

It has done more disruption to the daily life of working and schoolgoing persons versus any benefit.
In my opinion you should not disrupt the normal pattern of Nature.
There is no economic value in DST and life has never been better after starting DST versus normal nature timing.
Do not come up with stories of longer hours or productivity this is not true you have 24 hours in a day and you cannot chage this.
Never mess with nature we have seen enough of those mistakes.
Stay the same time the whole year round

William A Reynolds March 24, 2012 at 10:24 am

I was suprised to read that DST gives us more daylight hours. It seems to me that the amount of sunlight doesn’t change with the adjustment of our clocks. The number of hours of sunlight is determined by the tilt of the earth. DST only changes the time we experience the sun. Once DST begins, mornings are darker and evenings are brighter. For early-birds who like to run before breakfast, there is less sunshine. As far as productivity goes, more people drive to work in the dark and get off while the sun is still high due to DST than during standard time. Factory workers toil in dark factories and farmers work during the sunlight hours regardless of how we label them. I can’t see any corellation between air conditioner usage and the time. The day is hot regardless of the hour and the heat isn’t impacted by a time change.

To me the arguments don’t make a lot of sense.

Simon March 24, 2012 at 10:34 am

Every summer since I was born I’ve turned my clocks forward at the beginning and back at the end, so I’m used to DST. When the changes were ‘forced’ on Canada in 2006, I was annoyed that we basically had to follow a US decision, however I actually like the changes. Being a night owl, I dont really care what time it gets light in the morning, but I do appreciate having an extra hour of daylight for longer in the evening. I’ve no idea whether this saves energy or not, but I like it :)

Charles Handfield-Jones March 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Daylight saving time benefits the people living in the southern part of Canada were the days are “shorter”than those of the north.
The people living in the eastern end of a time zone have a earlier sunrise than those living at the western end of the zone, and likewise the western end has a later sunset than the east.
At the present time change the lights are needed in the morning so there is little savings ,when the time changed at the beginning of April the lights were not needed as much in the morning this applies to the western end of the zone.
The week later in the fall in really has no benefit in my opinion it was better at the last weekend of October.
This is the opinion of someone living in Southwestern Ontario.

ANNA DAMORE March 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I just wish they would live it alone,
I don’t think the changes help in any way especially in the winter.

Doug Shaw March 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm

In my opinion, DST should be on all year long not just seasonally!

D.

Jailbreak March 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm

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Penny March 24, 2012 at 4:24 pm

I think changing the time is stupid. Maybe it made sense for farmers who got up with the sun to start their day, but it doesn’t make sense anymore. But really, what difference does it make if we get up at 5 or 6. We’re still going to work the same 8 hour day. We should pick one or the other and stay there.

Rosalind March 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm

While switching to DST increases the sunlit hours in the evening, it decreases them in the morning – when most people are getting ready for work and school. Where they might have been able to get by without turning on lights in the morning, now they turn them on – at least during March, April and possibly into May. Points 1,2 and 3 Pro apply in North America simply because there is more daylight in summer than in winter.

The period of adjustment affeects everyone, whether DST dates are expanded or remain the same as pre-2007. If the normal working force has trouble adjusting, just imagine how difficult it is for shift workers, whose definition of ‘daytime’ and ‘worktime’ change every few days or weeks. This issue is more widespread than just DST/non-DST.

Mike March 25, 2012 at 10:33 am

Come on guys, you have TOU energy data going back at least 1 year don’t you? Why don’t you actually post some graphs and tell us if there are actual savings to DST or not, not just repeat the same hypothetical savings party line that DST proponents keep clamouring on about.

Connie March 26, 2012 at 8:44 am

I personally disagree with Daylight Saving Time as I don’t see how anyone could save any energy. By switching the clock one hour back in the winter makes people still get up early in the morning when it’s still dark anyway but due to the hour change people are now leaving work one hour later making it dark by the time it’s 5:00pm. therefore I don’t see how we can be saving any energy when we need to turn on the lights in the morning to go to work and turn on the lights when we get home.

If we just Leave the time as it is in the Summer, people would be getting up in the morning as usual in the dark but on the other hand would be getting home in the light.

Gerry Wiley March 26, 2012 at 7:41 pm

I think that the greater amount of daylight at the end of the day is desirable. I’m 78 years old and otherwise don’t see significant results in economy, safety or health.

Steven March 27, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I am not sure whether the Daylight Savings changes in 2007 will actually save energy. Having lived in both a zone that adhered to DST and one that didn’t, I can say that I am absolutely am in favour of it. I enjoy the long Summer evenings and the ability to be active outdoors in daylight. Conversely, I hated being woken at 4:30 am every morning by the sun….espicially on those days I had the luxury of sleeping in!

marie butt March 28, 2012 at 9:58 am

I do not like daylight saving time because no matter what time you put the clock at the earth and all the animals bodies and habits still stay on standard time. If a farmer has cows that need to be milked they have to be milked on standard time because their systems do not change time. A landlord of mine had to set an alarm on standard time for his milking and had to be on daylight saving to operate in the rest of the day. As far as saving electricity is concerned you have to burn it in the morning becausse it’s dark winter and summer and your day is already gone when you get up. I lose that hour and I never get it back until the time goes back Iam tired all summer and so is my body . I normally go to bed at 11 o’clock standard time and with time change my body does not retlire until 12 o’clock but the alarm is set for 6 o’clock the new time and my body has to get up at that time which has caused me to lose an hours sleep because I went to bed and hour later .The only people it benifitts are the ones who want to play golf until midnight . you can’t change the earhs time because it doesn’t change . the sun still rises at the same time but because the clocks have been set ahead an hour it rises according that and hour later . why don’t they get rid of that hour completely and operate on 23 hours a day all the time because that is what we operate on all summer when they remove that hour.

Bill Rogers March 28, 2012 at 2:23 pm

It seems that there are sufficient benefits to retain DST, and that the problems or concerns focus on the transition period – so why have a transition period? Keeping DST year round is my preference.

marie butt March 29, 2012 at 4:44 pm

I do not like it. The earth stays on standard time and so does my body. Anybody who has animals lilke cows etc. has to have two time schedules. you can say you have 24hours in a day but you only have 23. Stay on the fast time and don’t change back you have lost an hour a day completely in the time zone. It does not save anything on electricity in fact it costs you more because your airconditioning is on longer at night when we know the coolest time of the day is early morning and we are not burning lights at that time on standard time at this time of the year

Bernard Fernandes March 30, 2012 at 9:40 am

In my humble opinion, DST is the most ludicrous notion. Like saying, ‘is the left swing better than the right swing of the Pendulum? Or, if I gave you $ 10 in Spring and then took it back in Fall would you be better off?
Ever since man gave names to our Days & Months, we have been in trouble and stressed out.
After birth, our life becomes one long Journey. We do whatever we can when we wake up, and continue where we left off at after we’ve slept & rested. And, it goes on……. Enjoy every Blessed
moment. Que Sara…Sara!! What will be, will be!!!
So, is there an extra day in 2012? Who are we kidding!!??!!
Bernard

Lorna LeBrun March 31, 2012 at 10:16 am

Have one time and stick to it. The benefits to health mentioned are fictitious. Those that are healthy will still find a way to stay healthy, those that sit about will still do so! Switching the time twice a year affects most people’s sleep patterns for at least a month after the time change leaving everyone with the “jet lag” feeling, so how is that beneficial. As for energy savings, in this time of technology everything is run on electricity so there is probably no savings at one time more than another. We all need to find ways to reduce energy each day. As for the farmers, they live their daily life based on their animals requirements, not some artifical time created by Government.

Rick &Linda Bisset April 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Linda and I both think there is no advanage using DST . There is definately a disturbance in sleeping hrs. When you normaly get up at 5 am., it then feels like 4 am the rest of the yr. Better off standard time . like the province of Sask.

Jennifer June 12, 2012 at 10:25 am

Amen to that! I should prbbloay look this up on the internet to be sure but I think it was decided on by some MORNING person who couldn’t imagine why anyone would want more daylight available in the EVENINGS! Grrrr. You’re right, Anonymous, no one would remember the plague of the “time change” in 10 years. In our MTV society, people can barely remember what happened a week ago much less 10 years ago! ;o)2006 time change was no easier for me this year either. Seems to throw my whole system out of whack. Hibernation time, maybe?

Rubelyn June 14, 2012 at 11:50 pm

I had to catch a plane yesterday which tolltay sucked because no one could figure out the actually time! It was all different on the news and cell phones, etc. I would’ve been mortified if I missed my flight and was stuck in Ohio because of daylight savings!What a great day to catch a flight huh? LOL

Daniel August 29, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Personally, I would prefer DST all year round. In winter, I’d rather get ready for work in the dark and get home in the light. I don’t see any electricity savings because electricity is used more when people are awake. So if people wake up an hour earlier, higher electricity consumption will start an hour earlier. My heating and cooling is controlled by a programmable thermostat which I set 15min before I wake up and 15min before I get home, which I adjust for DST. And since peak hours start when businesses are running, unless work starts on hour later in winter, I don’t see any energy savings (before work as opposed to after work) going to or from DST. As for ‘jet-lag’ from the time change, don’t they say it’s one day adjustment for every hour? If it bothers you, try going to bed progressively earlier (like 3min per day) before the switch and it won’t be as bad. Personally I sleep in on weekends so I don’t notice a thing. As for DST disrupting the animals…what a load of whoey. They don’t use a clock, they use sunrise and sunset (like most farmers I assume). And didn’t anyone notice…sunrise and sunset are both changing by 1 to 3 minutes per day all year. So the animals are continuously adapting to changes in the amount of daylight all year. People and animals aren’t mechanical machines…you will survive even if you don’t eat, pee, and sleep at the exact same minute each day.

Reinhard Helbing January 1, 2014 at 12:29 pm

You already have listed the pros and cons in the original article and they say it all! Overall I would keep DST all year. In my view, It gets dark much too early in winter and we should make good use more of the daylight we have, especially in winter time. The amount of energy (not the cost which is distorted by any TOU scheme) may or may not be the same. It certainly varies by season anyway. And I still find that many people heat too much in winter and cool too much in summer, almost trying to reverse the respective season into its opposite. – The animals do their own thing anyway. DST or Standard Time are all man-made! The old local time is what the animals would go by if they would carry a watch. But that is no longer a viable option with the globalization that has taken place.

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