Daylight saving time (DST) has an interesting relationship with energy consumption. Originally, it was invented to save energy, but according to various studies, by Yale and the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, DST really has no impact on energy consumption.
Some argue that DST reduces electricity consumption since it means that people have more exposure to sunlight throughout the day. On the other hand, extra sunlight means more nighttime consumption including excessive fuel consumption.
To fully understand whether daylight saving time saves energy, we first need to look at its history.
How daylight saving time got its start.
Daylight saving time first made its debut during World War I. It was invented for the sole purpose of conserving fuel which was needed to produce electricity at night. DST was first used by other countries such as Germany and Austria in 1916, but was formally adopted in the United States in 1918.
After World War I ended, DST was repealed because it didn’t match with the way people lived back then. But when World War II began, President Franklin Roosevelt implemented a year-round daylight saving time, which was known as “War Time.” This intended to conserve energy consumption, while maximizing daylight manufacturing production.
Once the war ended, there was no federal law in place instituting DST. States and localities were free to choose whether to observe DST or not. It wasn’t until 1966, when The Uniform Time Act was signed into Public Law by President Lyndon Johnson that DST was finally established as a uniform system throughout the United States.
Why daylight saving time became the new norm.
Our energy usage and patterns have changed as technology has brought about efficient appliances. Lighting for example, is no longer a major energy waster, as LED bulbs have come to fruition.
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While daylight saving time was intended to cut down the amount of time that lights were left on – this issue is no longer significant. Critics will go a step further and argue that DST actually results in a higher demand for air conditioning and heating due to longer days. HVAC systems typically consume a lot of energy. Now imagine their usage with consistent extra daylight hours. On the other hand, daylight saving time offers us a chance to enjoy longer days. It’s nice to get out of work and still have an hour or so of sunlight to enjoy.
The rise of renewable energy allows you to enjoy this time without feeling guilty about your daytime energy consumption. Regardless of whatever time is in place, solar panels will always work as long as there’s sunlight; the same can be said for wind turbines and wind.