« Your Own Personal Google ABC Meme | Main | What Happens When Things Go Right? »

Hoosier Time Change Wastes Energy

daylight-savings-time.jpgA study from University of California Santa Barbara on Indiana's changeover to DST shows that, contrary to arguments in favor of the change, Indiana actually consumed more energy, not less, in regards to the time change.

Main Conclusions:

  • 1 to 4% increase in energy consumption
  • $8.6 million increase in household energy bills in 2007 in Indiana
  • social costs of increased pollution - $1.6 to $5.3 million per year
  • extensions to DST are most likely to increase demand for residential electricity

I've been a longtime DST skeptic so it's nice to see some solid research done on it. My friends in Indiana, it's not too late! Demand sanity! The cows are right!

From the report's conclusion:

The history of DST has been long and controversial. Throughout its implementation during World Wars I and II, the oil embargo of the 1970s, and more regular practice today, the primary rationale for DST has always been to promote energy conservation. Nevertheless, there is surprisingly little evidence that DST actually saves energy. This paper takes advantage of a natural experiment in the state of Indiana to provide the first empirical estimates of DST effects on electricity consumption in the United States since the mid-1970s. We focus on residential electricity demand and conduct the first study that uses micro-data on households.

Our main finding is that—contrary to the policy’s intent—DST results is an overall increase in residential electricity demand. Estimates of the overall increase in consumption range from 1 to 4 percent. We also find that the effect is not constant throughout the DST period, with evidence for electricity savings in the spring and increases that are greatest in the fall. These findings are generally consistent with simulation results that point to a tradeoff between reducing demand for lighting and increasing demand for heating and cooling. According to the dates of DST practice prior to 2007, we estimate a cost to Indiana households of $8.6 million per year in increased electricity bills. Estimates of the social costs due to increased pollution emissions range from $1.6 to $5.3 million per year.

The results of this research should inform ongoing debate about the recent extensions to DST that took place in 2007. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires that research be conducted to evaluate whether the extensions yield conservation benefits. While our results suggest that the extensions to DST are most likely to increase, rather than decrease, demand for residential electricity, further research is necessary to examine the effects of the extensions themselves. Future research should also investigate whether the findings here generalize to other locations throughout the United States. While we find that the longstanding rationale for DST is questionable, and that if anything the policy seems to have the opposite of its intended effect, there are other arguments made in favor of DST. These range from increased opportunities for leisure, enhanced public health and safety, and economic growth. In the end, a full evaluation of DST should account for these multiple dimensions, but the evidence here suggests that continued reliance on Benjamin Franklin’s old argument alone has become misleading.

The entire report by Matthew Kotchen (Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies) and Laura Grant (doctoral candidate), including spiffy charts and graphs, can be downloaded as a PDF. You can also see a Wall Street Journal article on the report.


Hear, hear!

As a lifelong Hoosier, being thrust into Daylight Savings Time has me in a little bit of a tizzy.

I mean, if summer time is so darned great, why shift it during the winter? I guess I'm somewhat offended by the massive waste of time. Let's say in each of the 2.3 million households in Indiana, we each spend five minutes adjusting our clocks this spring. That's about 8000 human days wasted, or about 22 years of one person's life. That 22 years is spread out as a time-waste among every Hoosier, and we do that twice a year!

This doesn't take into account the news programs wasting airtime reminding people to set their clocks. Nor does it take into account the massive amount of bitching that I do about the subject.

I think it's actually a shell game though. We are told, "This saves energy!" without facts to prove that assertation. It's really about money for business, I think. An extra hour of daylight in the evening stimulates people to go out and spend money. But the politicians can't say, "This is good for businesses and restaurants." because being falsely pro-environment sounds better.

Proof that it's for business reasons came a couple of years ago, where the candy lobbyists (!) gave Congress treats if they could just move DST back beyond Halloween. An extra hour of daylight meant more candy consumption, so to "sweeten the deal" Congress each got a bag of goodies and sweets.

Finally, I think it sucks to be on Eastern time in Indiana, especially around the summer solstice, when the sun sets at about 10:00 at night!

Good stuff. I hate DST. We only adopted it because all our friends jumped off the cliff first.

Yeah, what they said! We lived in Evansville when we first got married, and I got my first taste of Central time, and while it was hard to get used to it being so dark at 4:30 inj Dec. that first yr, I ended up liking it. Here in TH, we can almost spit down the street into Illinois, yet we are on time with NY? I turn on the Today show, and the sun is up in Manhattan and it's still dark for another 30-40 mins. here in Indiana. (I think Vigo Co should have gone to CST) Plus, it's not like work or school hours change with the time--I still do the exact same things I always do, using the exact same energy, no matter what the clock says, and my bills definitely don't show any "savings"! Plus, now that I finally have my kids programmed to be asleep at 8 pm, I can't wait until summer when, like the man said, we have almost 2 more hours of daylight.
Whew! DST never seemed to make much sense to me, either, but I figured, in my math/science-challenged way, that I was missing something--glad you posted this, Lars!

Check out the book Seize the Daylight. It's a great history of how DST came to be.

I blame Benjamin Franklin.

Post a comment