Damn Daylight Saving Doesn’t Save

Old Clocks.

NPR covered it like an eclipse or astronomic curiosity, and did little to question the claimed energy saving benefits. But, as Michael Downing asks in Spring Forward, how can something understood by so few be done by so many? And why go through this twice annual madness?

Supposedly, we subject ourselves to the rule of time to conserve oil, but even the most wildly optimistic predictions suggest only a 1% drop in consumption. And those predictions are based on bad data.

The 1% statistic came from the 1970s when people used less oil during the OPAC OPEC embargo, making it difficult to tell what caused what. A late 1960’s British experiment with daylight saving time failed to show any such benefit, and an Australian experiment in 2000 showed none. In fact, it resulted in “a slight but statistically negligible increase in overall usage.”

Seed Magazine re-ran numbers in 2006 and estimated that at best we might achieve a 0.04% oil savings based on the theories (the Australian report hadn’t been published by that time), and reported:

Saving four-hundredths of one percent is like shaving about 200 feet off of 100 miles. Does any sane person think this will make a serious dent in our energy use?

Alternatively, a one mile per gallon increase in average fuel economy would result in a 4% reduction in fuel use and cut our overall oil consumption by 1.6%.

There might be good reasons to extend DST, but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking it’s going to do anything about our energy problem. Sometimes the little things mean a lot. Sometimes they don’t mean squat.

Special thanks to servus for the photo.

economy, dst, daylight savings time, daylight saving time, conservation, energy, oil, statisticseconomy, dst, daylight savings time, daylight saving time, conservation, energy, oil, statistics

10 thoughts on “Damn Daylight Saving Doesn’t Save

  1. My wife would be applauding if she read this. Hawaii and Arizona (non-DST states, if I remember correctly) are looking awfully good…

    The part-time cynic in me is inclined to suggest that the primary reason for extending DST has squat to do with “saving energy” and a whole bunch to do with increasing consumption (shopping, etc.). (The full-time realist tends to agree.)

  2. Casey, I love the example saving 200 feet of 100 miles. Actually, since we are extending DST for another month, we are creating more work. So, in reality it’s like digging a tunnel on the side of a mountain to save 200 feet.

  3. Pingback: Z.Monkey’s Blog » What are we doing?

  4. What I like about this whole scheme is that we now spend more time in “Savings” time over “Standard” time: 238 versus 127.

    All in favor of permanently shifting the time an hour?

  5. “What’s with this insanity?”
    That what I thought when I first found out about DST (living in Malaysia BTW). I mean why make your lives inconvenient?

  6. As a retiree and night person, I like the idea of getting up later in the morning with DST and not missing an hour of morning daylight while gaining an hour of evening light … the time of day when I’m at my best. Its strictly a personal advantage that, to me, justifies the trouble caused by the semi-annual time switch. I agree that it is amazing that our country and state could buy into such an intrusive, confusing idea as DST, when other needed, though intrusive, changes go wanting. I personally would like to see the following _crazy_ changes adopted (but am not holding my breath until they happen): Common use of dollar coins, metric system, comprehensive health care reform, giving NH towns and cities power to raise money by multiple methods (now limited to taxing personal property), and all meat-eating college students be required to take a field trip to a commercial slaughter house. Killing and dressing of farm animals are critical but conveniently overlooked steps for meat to reach plates of most people (ps: I’m meat-eater, but I grew up on a farm where cattle and poultry were raised)!

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