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Daylight Saving Time Wastes Energy 550

Posted by kdawson
from the back-to-nature's-clock dept.
An anonymous reader writes "With the time approaching when we'll be changing our clocks again, the Wall Street Journal is running a timely article on a study done by a UC-Santa Barbara economics professor and a Ph.D. student. The study unambiguously concludes that Daylight Saving Time not only doesn't save any energy, it actually wastes energy and costs more. The study used energy company records from Indiana before and after that state mandated DST for all of its counties, and calculated that the switch cost Indiana citizens $8.6M per year. 'I've never had a paper with such a clear and unambiguous finding as this,' the professor said."
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Daylight Saving Time Wastes Energy

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  • by istartedi (132515) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:34AM (#22632632) Journal

    I mean, after all, you're not going to get hypothermia. Most of you will be miserable of course, and the cost of that is rather difficult to calculate. I don't know about the rest of you out there in Slash-land, but my co-workers and I have been looking forward to coming home after work and having an extra hour of daylight. It's priceless. So. Put that in your penny-pinching pipe and smoke it.

  • by pembo13 (770295) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:35AM (#22632644) Homepage
    As someone from the Caribbean now in the Midwest (of the USA), it makes no sense to me in everyday life and is purely annoying. In areas where the sunset/sunrise times are that much affected, is it not possible to have individuals/businesses allow for the change?
  • by ortcutt (711694) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:37AM (#22632650)
    DST would be worth it even if it wasted energy. Morning hours of daylight are useless to me considering that I am either at work or on the way to work. I can actually use after-work hours of daylight to do something enjoyable. That's the original rationale for DST and it still applies. DST should be extended year-round.
  • by Sneftel (15416) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:37AM (#22632654)
    The conclusions seem reasonable, but I'm disturbed that the researchers didn't consider the potential impact of overall hotter summers. Did neighboring states have relatively flat energy usage over the same period?
  • by Marbleless (640965) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:41AM (#22632678)
    ... both of which would use more energy I would have thought.

    Show me the figures with those items adjusted for and there may be something worth a story.
  • by Endymion (12816) <slashdot...org@@@thoughtnoise...net> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:46AM (#22632700) Homepage Journal
    The one I want to know is how much energy it takes all of the people across the country to separate out and otherwise deal with recycling. Sure, it's just a few seconds here and there, but added up, that's probably a significant number of Joules of energy being used.

    And then to convert that amount of energy into the number of barrels of oil it represents. I don't think most people have ever considered the equation of how much oil we are spending to enable us to use less oil. (only talking plastic, of course - aluminum is a pretty clear case of a win for recycling)

    There's probably other things, too, that we just take for granted as they are such small impacts on our time (energy), yet add up to significant amounts in aggregate.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:47AM (#22632708)
    I could simply say RTFA, but I'll also mention that they used the data from other illinois counties that used DST before and after as a control... funny how researchers think of these silly details before it reaches slashdot...
  • by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:47AM (#22632710)
    I think it should be permanently 'sprung forward' so we get more light in the evening. Otherwise useless to us non-morning people. Bah! (image of Catbert holding rolled up newspaper)
  • by fredmosby (545378) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:55AM (#22632756)
    Usually by the time I get off work it's almost dark outside. It really sucks to be looking out the office window seeing what I nice day it is and not be able to go outside. Business hours should be from noon to 8:00. They way I could get up and go enjoy some of the daylight hours even though it's a work day.
  • by compro01 (777531) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:55AM (#22632758)
    how about you follow our (Saskatchewan's) example and have DST year-round? We've been on DST full-time since 1966.
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by edwardpickman (965122) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:55AM (#22632762)
    Programmers that have to adapt their code to take in account daylight savings time. They get more work out of the deal. Kind of the Y2K effect. I live in the one state with the sense to ignore it, Arizona. Perception is everything and if there's a perceived benefit it won't change. The real problem is you aren't changing the day length all you are doing is moving the extra daylight from the morning to evening. When I lived in a state with daylight savings I always found it annoying because one day I'm getting up after the sun is up then suddenly the next day I'm getting up and it's still dark. All it does is throw off body clocks and cost productivity until people adapt then in six months they go through the same mess. It's interesting that it actually costs power but there's little doubt it costs money and productivity so it's a pointless exercise.
  • by qwer_tea (1189865) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @03:27AM (#22632916)

    I think it should be permanently 'sprung forward' so we get more light in the evening.

    I think you're confused about our time system. Hint: there is a reason that 12 at night is called midnight and 12 at noon is called midday.

    If you want more daylight, wake-up ealier rather than messing with your (and our) clocks.

  • by IdahoEv (195056) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @03:30AM (#22632934) Homepage
    You snark, but I've heard fairly serious accusations that DST is primarily driven by the golf-and-country-club lobby, which wants more months in which wealthy businessmen have light in the evenings after they get off work.

    The results of this study are entirely unsurprising. DST saved energy when lighting was the primary use for electrical power in the home. More light in the evening, fewer lights on. But since the 1970's or so, air conditioning has come to consume far more energy in the summer than lighting, so sending people home from work while the sun is still strongly heating their homes means more home AC units. And it's far more efficient to cool a few large buildings (=low surface area) with industrial AC than millions of individual home-sized units.

    And yet... just last year, the Congress voted to extend DST by a few weeks on each end, way out in the spring and fall when it can't possibly make much difference.

  • by amRadioHed (463061) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @03:59AM (#22633084)

    There's probably other things, too, that we just take for granted as they are such small impacts on our time (energy), yet add up to significant amounts in aggregate.
    I guess that depends on how you define significance. Someone a little down thread figured that the US wasts about 95 man years changing clocks for DST every year. Ok, that sounds like a lot but only if you pretend it isn't an aggregate of millions of peoples time. Any insignificant amount multiplied enough will come out to a significant amount but that doesn't make it significant. I just tried to imagine something that American's spend less time doing than changing their clocks and I drew a blank.
  • by Kokuyo (549451) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @04:08AM (#22633140) Journal
    So just because you can't get your lazy ass out of bed in the morning means you should get more sunlight in the evening... right. What about those who enjoy a quiet morning stroll in the park before they go to work? What about all of us who take weeks, two times a year, to get their sleeping under control because their internal clock gets all messed up? Do I need to walk around like a zombie for days afterwards (again, twice a year!) just because YOU think nature has to adapt to your schedule?
  • by amRadioHed (463061) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @04:14AM (#22633170)
    If we do away with DST, who says we need to stick with the summer hours all year round? If we keep the winter hours than we get more of that nice daytime after work all year long.
  • by RailGunSally (946944) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @04:21AM (#22633206)

    Seriously. The entire objection to eliminating DST seems to reduce to people wanting more daylight playtime in the evenings. So, go to DST and quit. Done. And now that we're going to have to patch and boot every last server in the enterprise (again) lets do something really smart and put the whole planet on GMT permanently and have done with it. Yes, that means you too, Indiana.

    Practical timekeeping involves nothing more than assigning an arbitrary set of integers to the position of the Earth relative to the Sun. Why make anybody correct for time zone? This is nothing more than a senseless source of error. We can do the big shift while my aged parents are preoccupied with the Commie plot to destroy analog TV signals. Hell, they're still stunned that their man Mitt gave up on the White House. They have bigger fish to fry.

  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rob Simpson (533360) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @04:25AM (#22633222)

    Curtains and shutters are nice. But how do you plan to get that extra hour of sunlight after work?
    Work 8 to 4?
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Waffle Iron (339739) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:47AM (#22633522)

    Work 8 to 4?

    That's right. And the most surefire way to convince your boss to let you work 9-5 in the winter and 8-4 in the summer is to institute DST.

  • by SixArmedJesus (513025) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:56AM (#22633548) Homepage
    I agree. Not only that, but also get rid of AM/PM and just go to a 24 Hour clock. In all seriousness, it would get rid of ambiguity when referring to time in any medium. It would take some adjusting for people to get the hang of the sun rising at 13:30 where they live, or working from 18:00 to to 2:00. But when you want to call your relatives that live on the other side of the country (assuming your country spans multiple current time zones) it will be easy to say, "Hey, I'll call you tomorrow at 11:00," and there will be no question of "your time or my time?"

    No DST.
    No Timezones.
    No AM/PM.
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bert64 (520050) <bert&slashdot,firenzee,com> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @07:35AM (#22633966) Homepage
    What makes "changing the concept of time so that people can get up an hour earlier but still call of 6am" more reasonable than "getting up an hour earlier at 5am"?
    What's to stop you starting work at 8am instead of doing exactly the same thing and calling it 9am instead? You'd finish at 4pm instead of pretending it's 5pm, and still get your evening.
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bert64 (520050) <bert&slashdot,firenzee,com> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @07:43AM (#22634006) Homepage
    So people are really so stuck in their ways that work has to start when the clock says 9?
    If you're going to change the clocks, change them drastically, make 9 occur in the middle of the night, see if people really are stubborn enough to go to work at such hours.

    I also think timezones should be abolished, they only serve to confuse, especially with the global communication we have now. Time should be something that always remains constant, so things can be kept in sync. Having multiple timezones confuses that, using dst to manipulate those timezones even further just makes the problem even worse.

    Why is it that the idea of things occurring at specific numbers on the clock is more important than what those numbers actually mean?
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mattcasters (67972) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @07:50AM (#22634040) Homepage
    What makes it more reasonable?

    The fact that everyone in the same geographical area does it together I guess.
  • Um... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @08:14AM (#22634158)
    Why not adjust the timezone permanently?
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by locofungus (179280) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @08:15AM (#22634160)
    So get up at 5:30, start work an hour early, leave an hour early.
    By changing the definition of time you're defeating the point of having a clock. Why are people so set in their ways that things must happen at fixed numerical times? If you changed the clock so that 9am occured during darkness, would people still go to work at that time? It's utterly absurd.


    You know, my employer has these strange things called employment contracts that includes the hours I'm expected to be at work. And trains for my commute have things called timetables.

    And people going to work in the dark? That's absolutely standard for me for half the year. Coming home in the dark as well.

    But rather than use up two hours of daylight commuting during the summer I like the clocks to change so that I only have to use up one of them. But they don't change early enough to allow that.

    Tim.
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by digitig (1056110) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @08:31AM (#22634230)

    So people are really so stuck in their ways that work has to start when the clock says 9?
    No, but they're so stuck in their ways that if you leave an hour before everybody else you're seen as slacking.
  • by Asic Eng (193332) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @08:38AM (#22634270)
    Won't that just replace the problem with "what time do you guys start work over there?" If I call a colleague in Australia or India now, and they till me it's "11am here" I at least know what that means in relation to their normal daily routine.
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by The Second Horseman (121958) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @09:58AM (#22634832)
    Because you don't have to change, or have two sets, of business signs, train tables, bus schedules, etc? Seriously, do you expect everyone to do a "ok, now we're going to change when we open" rather than changing (on one day) how we account for what time it is? It's actually easier to change the clocks. Remembering that TV schedules are now shifted off by an hour seems unlikely as well. Also, while daylight savings can be mandated by law, telling everyone to open an hour earlier via legislation would be pretty difficult to do. What makes it more reasonable is the real-world inconvenience of having to change every bit of printed material, all the signs, websites, phone greetings, etc.


    Or, I know, we can just tell everyone to piss off entirely and use UTC for schedules, opening and closing times, etc.

  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fizzer82 (1201947) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @10:09AM (#22634940)

    First, I have to mention that I don't believe that you "hate to reference Star Trek". We can see your username, I'm sure you're a huge trekkie, don't be coy.

    Also, swatch has already tried this in an effort to sell us a new kind of watch. http://www.swatch.com/internettime/ [swatch.com]

    There was a decent amount of press when they started it, but of course its just a stupid marketing thing and nobody really cares. A universal time standard just doesn't add any real value. Timezones work out pretty well and people like the fact that daily schedules map pretty well to the same time no matter where you go. Oh, and I hate to break it to you, but we're not going to have to be dealing with interplanetary time synchronization for quite a few lifetimes.

  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BigDogCH (760290) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @10:09AM (#22634946) Journal
    If DST was abolished, and all companies were encouraged and allowed to alter their hours accordingly, they would. States that didn't have DST still survived, happier by many arguments.

    In manufacturing, hours are already often changed due to heating and energy issues. Office workers hours could be changed for similar reasons, and the general customer service industry will follow suit.

    DST is the tool of the Devil.
  • Re:Wait a sec (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chanda3199 (786804) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @10:26AM (#22635128)

    If Indianaians are using more A/C and more heating, its they who are at fault.


    We're called Hoosiers you insensitive clod!
  • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @10:29AM (#22635148)
    Right, but Star Trek's Stardate idea was mostly to "seem" cool, and I think was at some point established how it synced to "Earth" time (probably in San Francisco).

    However, in the Fictional Star Trek Universe, it still solves a problem (remember, Star Trek assumes instantaneous communication, they have FTL communication). Sure, the visibility of stars going supernova from various outposts with ships traveling at near light speed has relativity issues. However, what is more likely, the people on Earth and Chiron Beta Prime observing a supernova and caring who sees it first, or the new Chiron Beta Prime Multiplanetary Company has a regional office on Earth, and a meeting between the regional sales managers all need to sync up time. The regional sales managers DON'T care about special relativity and time dilation, they care that they are all there for the conference call at the same time.

    The fact is, when doing multi-timezone conference calls, there is a bit of confusion always in setting them up (takes an extra 15 seconds, is that 11 AM your time or mine), but we all get by and function, and usually make them. The inconvenience for us that do distance business in syncing up times is FAR less than the mess of forcing everyone to establish different local hours.

    The timing of the US Market being open drives a LOT of the timing for white collar workers, albeit indirectly, and and Federal Reserve for banking, I presume that that is true in other developed economies.
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @10:54AM (#22635404) Homepage Journal

    I also think timezones should be abolished, they only serve to confuse, especially with the global communication we have now. Time should be something that always remains constant, so things can be kept in sync. Having multiple timezones confuses that, using dst to manipulate those timezones even further just makes the problem even worse.


    You forget how timezones were created here. Before the concept of a time zone, current time was regulated by determining the local mean solar time for you particular location... meaning your exact longitude. Defining what "now" was could be different even on opposite sides of a college campus, much less between different cities. At least with the concept of a time zone, all the arithmetic you have to perform is to add or subtract a few hours, unless you are dealing with truly global enterprises or projects.

    On a historical note, the concept of a time zone was introduced by the railroad companies, who found that it was incredibly difficult for them to make train schedules where each individual town on the route would have its own definition of time. Imagine the locomotive engineer who had to have something like a complex GPS receiver that would give the local "time" as they moved across Kansas heading for the Rocky Mountains built out of 19th Century technology. It just didn't work, so instead the idea of a time zone that would only have to be occasionally adjusted for genuinely long distance travel was created.

    This also had the advantage that it was at most about a 1/2 hour off from the "local time" used in the previous definition of "now". In other words, it wasn't too difficult to move people off of the previous "standard" onto the newer "standard" of time zones. With your proposal of elimination of time zones (which is pretty much the case anyway in terms of synchronizing computers and other scientific experiments needing that level of organization), getting ordinary people to adjust to a global clock is going to cause many other problems. Such as why should Paris/London be selected as the "ideal" time zone, as opposed to Moscow, New Delhi, Beijing, or New York/Washington DC? GMT/UTC is an adopted standard only because that is what mariners for the UK Royal Navy used during a period of global colonial dominance, not that the French didn't mind using the same standard either for the most part as Paris and London are nearly the same longitude, at least for time considerations.

    One other thing to consider (and I've had to be blunt with people from different time zones to point this out)... 8 A.M. "local time" is when most people get up, and about 10 P.M. is when most people head for the bed. If you are aware of this when dealing with people in other time zones, you can be much more polite and note when they may be "in the office". Having a bill collector call you at 6 A.M. is not only annoying... it can even be illegal, especially if they ignore the concept of a timezone when they call you. And yes, that has happened to me.
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by marcosdumay (620877) <marcosdumay AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @10:56AM (#22635422) Homepage Journal

    "It's gotta be only one guy at Microsoft, the way of handling this in Vista is so dumb."

    It is hard for an individual to be dumber than a big team. It does happen sometimes, but not often.

  • by greyhueofdoubt (1159527) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:08AM (#22635590) Homepage Journal
    One of the nice things about time zones is that it preserves the experience of time across locations. For example, "morning" means a time, usually around 6 am, and it is a concept that is easy to translate. Morning means morning no matter where you are, excepting very northern and southern latitudes.

    Your system would work fine for internal time systems, but humans I think need that common ground for communication. Instead of saying, "an earthquake struck the Azores at 1300, which was 2 hours after sunrise," you could say, "An earthquake struck the Azores at 8 am." Or 0800. I don't object to a 24-hour clock; it's what I use at work.

    I just don't see how it would be easier to say, "call me in the morning, which is 1500 your time," vs "Call me at my 0700. I'm 9 hours behind you." Human experience rotates around the sun, not numbers. Having morning be a different hour each thousand miles would not be any different from having morning be the same hour that happens over again every thousand miles. You need to remember eithe time zones or, er, a different kind of time zone. Unless you expect people to wake up in the middle of the night to suit your new time convention.

    IMO.

    -b
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by russotto (537200) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:45AM (#22636070) Journal

    Actually, it's called the Broken Window effect. Look it up :)

    Sure, but just because the broken window is a net negative for society doesn't mean that glaziers don't benefit.
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ArikTheRed (865776) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:58AM (#22636328) Homepage

    And what really pissed us IN. citizens off was that Congress decided that next year to play around with the definitions of DST and when they switch.
    Really? I always figured what really pissed off you IN citizens was having to live in Indiana.
  • by rrkap (634128) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @12:53PM (#22637060) Homepage
    You have it backwards. Summer hours give you more daylight after work. Given my choice, I'd switch to DST year round and deal with going to work in the dark.
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:15PM (#22637496)
    "So people are really so stuck in their ways that work has to start when the clock says 9?"

    When you've got multiple people on a team and customers/clients to work with, then yes, they're 'stuck' in their ways. If you've ever described somebody as a 'flake', then you already understand this concept.

    "If you're going to change the clocks, change them drastically, make 9 occur in the middle of the night, see if people really are stubborn enough to go to work at such hours."

    Okay, you win, if you take something to an absurd extreme, people won't follow it. Glad we got that all cleared up.

    "I also think timezones should be abolished, they only serve to confuse, especially with the global communication we have now. Time should be something that always remains constant, so things can be kept in sync. Having multiple timezones confuses that, using dst to manipulate those timezones even further just makes the problem even worse."

    All you'd do is solve one problem and create a whole bunch of others. At least, right now, I know roughly what time of day it is in Australia. I know what the hour offset is, and I know the sun sets there roughly the same time it does here (relatively speaking.) With your proposed system, I'd have to know what time of day the sun sets for them over there. "Their sun rises at 9am and sets at 8pm... Oh, wait, it's summer for them right now, so it's like 10pm.. I think... " Since our days are tied to the light/dark cycle of this planet, we'd have to make a lot of other things relative with the only common base of reference not really being all that intuitive. It makes getting that conference call in Tokyo a little bit easier to arrange, it makes picking the right time of day for everybody to get involved a bit harder.

    "Why is it that the idea of things occurring at specific numbers on the clock is more important than what those numbers actually mean?"

    Because if you poke your head outside at several times over the next 12 hours, you're likely to catch a glimpse of the sun. Our bodies are tuned to that. Our lives are tuned to that. We haven't reached a point yet where we're ready to shed ourselves of that. The Time Zones solved a huge problem, as did DST, by giving everybody an intuitive point of reference. Switching to 'stardate' will solve a few problems, but it will not actually reduce the number of problems we have. As the years go by, and technology becomes more and more ubiquitous, your suggestions may come to pass. Actually, I have no doubt that'll happen. But right now, despite how whizz-bang our communications capabilities are, we're still heavily influenced by the sun. And that means we need things like Time Zones to co-ordinate. Sorry.
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Translation Error (1176675) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:48PM (#22642584)
    Or in other words, "None of us is as dumb as all of us." Courtesy of Despair.com [despair.com]

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