Spring Forward – Fall Back: Daylight Saving Time

Daylight saving time biannual event where we all feel like we are either losing or gaining an hour of sleep, depending on which way the clock goes. Some of us dread it, some of us love it, and some of us can't quite remember if we are supposed to spring forward or fall back. But no matter how you feel about daylight saving time, one question that often comes up is whether it actually saves energy or not.

First, let's back up a bit and talk about what daylight saving time is. In the northern hemisphere, daylight saving time (DST) starts on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. During DST, clocks are set forward one hour, so that there is more daylight in the evening and less in the morning. The idea behind DST is that by shifting the daylight hours, we can save energy and reduce the need for artificial lighting.

But does it actually work? Well, the answer is complicated. Some studies have suggested that DST does indeed save energy, particularly when it comes to electricity usage for lighting. A 2008 study by the US Department of Energy found that DST reduced electricity usage by about 0.5% per day, which may not sound like a lot, but can add up to significant savings over time. Another study by the California Energy Commission in 2010 estimated that DST saved the state about 2000 gigawatt hours of electricity per year, which is equivalent to the amount of electricity used by about 200,000 households in a year.

On the other hand, there are also studies that suggest that DST may not actually save energy, or that the energy savings are minimal at best. A 2007 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that while DST did reduce electricity usage for lighting, it also increased energy usage for heating and cooling. The study concluded that the net effect of DST on energy consumption was essentially zero. Another study by the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2016 found that DST may actually increase energy usage in some areas, due to increased air conditioning use during the extended daylight hours.

So, what's the verdict? Does DST save energy, or not? The answer depends... The effects of DST on energy consumption can vary depending on a number of factors, such as geography, climate, and individual behavior. In some areas, DST may indeed lead to significant energy savings, while in others, the impact may be negligible or even negative.

But regardless of whether DST saves energy or not, there is no denying that it has become a beloved tradition for many people. Whether you are a morning person who loves getting up with the sun or a night owl who cherishes those long summer evenings, there is something about the biannual ritual of adjusting the clock that captures our collective imagination. So happy daylight saving time!