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Could daylight saving waste energy?


For many years different counties in Indiana were seeing the sun set at different times of the day
For many years different counties in Indiana were seeing the sun set at different times of the day

Kevan Karanjia, Staff Writer

March 10, 2013 — Daylight saving can be unpopular with people who value every minute of their sleep but could energy waste be another reason to hate the annual occasion?

Clocks went ahead an hour at 3 a.m. on Sunday
Clocks went ahead an hour at 3 a.m. on Sunday

Daylight saving has been around for almost a century, advancing clocks so that evenings have more daylight.

In theory it's believed to save on energy consumption by eliminating the amount of time lights are required during the day but new findings from Indiana might contradict that belief.

In the Hoosier State, for many years only 15 of 92 counties set their clocks an hour ahead in spring and one back in fall.

The other counties stayed on standard time all year because many farmers did not want to work an extra hour in the dark of morning.

This became quite problematic as the state was already divided between Eastern and Central time zones, and many came to hate the complications from being out of sync with neighbouring states.

As a result of the problems, the Indiana Legislature put the entire state on DST at the start of 2006.

The change to DST prompted a study by the University of California-Santa Barbara to see how the time shift affected energy use.

The red depicts counties in the Central Time Zone in Indiana, while the Yellow is the Eastern
The red depicts counties in the Central Time Zone in Indiana, while the Yellow is the Eastern

The study looked at over seven million monthly Duke Energy meter readings from households in southern Indiana over a three year period.

After looking at energy consumption before and after counties began observing DST, the study showed households spent an additional $8.6 million on their electricity bills.

A control group comprising of households that had already adopted DST was used to account for changes in the weather from one year to the next.

While households spent less on lighting during daylight savings in the afternoon, they spent more on air conditioning during warm days and heating during cool mornings.

The savings on lighting were quite minimal compared to the increased use of thermostat appliances.

Despite the findings, there are other studies showcasing the affect daylight savings has on crime, traffic fatalities, and personal happiness as a result of the additional sunlight during the evening.

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