Why Do We Spring Forward???

In the United States, we just sprang forward at 2:00am today (March 13, 2011). For some reason and please note that I blame the Daylight Savings Times for losing more than just 1 hour of sleep. I could not sleep pretty much all night, subconsciously my mind just wanted to get done with the whole move-the-clock-ahead-by-an-hour, lose-an-hour-of-sleep.

Anyway, so finally after tossing and turning all night long, I finally woke up and decided to begin my day at 7:00am this Sunday. Picture my putting my fist up in the air and damning the Daylight Savings Time change covered up by a cute and adorable faux title – “Spring Forward” sounds so cool, doesn’t it? So first thing I did while making my breakfast was to look up the internet to find the amount of money it saves the Unites States year after year “Springing Forward” and then “Falling Back”.

Interestingly, I stumbled upon this NatGeo article published today:

How and When Did Daylight Saving Time Start?

Ben Franklin—of “early to bed and early to rise” fame—was apparently the first person to suggest the concept of daylight savings, according to computer scientist David Prerau, author of the book Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time.

While serving as U.S. ambassador to France in Paris, Franklin wrote of being awakened at 6 a.m. and realizing, to his surprise, that the sun would rise far earlier than he usually did. Imagine the resources that might be saved if he and others rose before noon and burned less midnight oil, Franklin, tongue half in cheek, wrote to a newspaper.

“Franklin seriously realized it would be beneficial to make better use of daylight but he didn’t really know how to implement it,” Prerau said.

It wasn’t until World War I that daylight savings were realized on a grand scale. Germany was the first state to adopt the time changes, to reduce artificial lighting and thereby save coal for the war effort. Friends and foes soon followed suit.

In the U.S. a federal law standardized the yearly start and end of daylight saving time in 1918—for the states that chose to observe it.

During World War II the U.S. made daylight saving time mandatory for the whole country, as a way to save wartime resources. Between February 9, 1942, and September 30, 1945, the government took it a step further. During this period daylight saving time was observed year-round, essentially making it the new standard time, if only for a few years.

Since the end of World War II, though, daylight saving time has always been optional for U.S. states. But its beginning and end have shifted—and occasionally disappeared.

During the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo, the U.S. once again extended daylight saving time through the winter, resulting in a one percent decrease in the country’s electrical load, according to federal studies cited by Prerau.

Thirty years later the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was enacted, mandating a controversial monthlong extension of daylight saving time, starting in 2007.

But does daylight saving time really save any energy?

Daylight Saving Time: Energy Saver or Just Time Suck?

In recent years several studies have suggested that daylight saving time doesn’t actually save energy—and might even result in a net loss.

Environmental economist Hendrik Wolff, of the University of Washington, co-authored a paper that studied Australian power-use data when parts of the country extended daylight saving time for the 2000 Sydney Olympics and others did not. The researchers found that the practice reduced lighting and electricity consumption in the evening but increased energy use in the now dark mornings—wiping out the evening gains.

Likewise, Matthew Kotchen, an economist at the University of California, saw in Indiana a situation ripe for study.

Prior to 2006 only 15 of the state’s 92 counties observed daylight saving time. So when the whole state adopted daylight saving time, it became possible to compare before-and-after energy use. While use of artificial lights dropped, increased air-conditioning use more than offset any energy gains, according to the daylight saving time research Kotchen led for the National Bureau of Economic Research [PDF] in 2008.

That’s because the extra hour that daylight saving time adds in the evening is a hotter hour. “So if people get home an hour earlier in a warmer house, they turn on their air conditioning,” the University of Washington’s Wolff said.

In fact, Hoosier consumers paid more on their electric bills than before they made the annual switch to daylight saving time, the study found.

Extended daylight saving time—still in practice in 2011—saved 1.3 terawatt hours of electricity. That figure suggests that daylight saving time reduces annual U.S. electricity consumption by 0.03 percent and overall energy consumption by 0.02 percent.

While those percentages seem small, they could represent significant savings because of the nation’s enormous total energy use.

What’s more, savings in some regions are apparently greater than in others.

California, for instance, appears to benefit most from daylight saving time—perhaps because its relatively mild weather encourages people to stay outdoors later. The Energy Department report found that daylight saving time resulted in an energy savings of one percent daily in the state.

You can read the rest of the article here: Nat Geo – Daylight Savings Time 2011

Personally, I think that even though the percentage of energy saved may be in single digits, it is still worth it. Conserving our energy resources and saving those green bills goes a long way.


About One Change At A Time

Me - I just want to spread goodness and happiness... one good deed at a time.
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5 Responses to Why Do We Spring Forward???

  1. Stef says:

    I grew up in Indiana, so we never changed time. Imagine my surprise when, as an adult, I moved to a state that did observe Daylight Savings – I literally showed up an hour early to church my first year of living on my own on the day after Daylight Savings.

    I have since learned. 🙂

  2. Hanna says:

    Thank goodness I don’t have day light savings here… It’s the same all year around! Plus, only two seasons… With a few earth quakes here and there (we should really learn from Japan how they made their tall and strong-flexible buildings. It’s amazing! Thumbs up for them)

  3. In the UK, time change is soon…. 😦

  4. Vickie Plasterer says:

    I think DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME is a BLESSING. I do live in Indiana now, formerly my home state was Louisiana.
    Indiana Winters are brutal and OH SO DARK. I HATE IT. We cannot move back south because of my husband’s position; so I am stuck in this miserable climate, without good sunshine from November through April and Sometimes even into May !!

    Daylight Savings time is good for me, becaue I get to make up a few daylight hours during the Spring and Summer, then I must hunker down for the miserable cold, snow, ice, dark and all around MISERABLE TIME !!

    • Vickie, I agree, daylight savings does help. One gets to stay out in the sun longer. I was just trying to make it humorous 😉 losing one hour of sleep and all… but yeah, I hate winters when the sun sets by 4:30pm. Even though its not all that bad in California, I am sure that for central and east coast states its much worse.

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