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Government Earth News

Daylight Saving Time Wastes Energy 550

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 Xenographic ( 557057 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:33AM (#22632624) Journal
    Skip DST entirely. No clock changes at all. You want more daylight? Get up earlier. Need more time to work? Work summer hours.

    It's MUCH easier than having to change your clocks all the time. And it seems that it's much less wasteful, too.
  • by Baricom ( 763970 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:40AM (#22632666)

    And it seems that it's much less wasteful, too.
    Very true. In fact, I wonder what the actual U.S. labor cost of changing clocks for DST would come out to. Even if you say it takes 10 seconds to reset each clock, that adds up over millions of people.
  • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @03:05AM (#22632808) Homepage
    While your argument is correct, logical and makes sense it is not applicable in most places around the world. At least here the Trade Unions have managed to have the working hours for retail premises legislated. Similar legislation exists for premises selling alcohol, pubs, cafes, etc around the world. Politicians have been busy and it sometimes it is really easier to move the clock and get over with it rather than get two fat volumes of century old legislation off the books.
  • by Bios_Hakr ( 68586 ) <xptical@nOSPAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @03:20AM (#22632880)
    Bullshit! did a show on recycling. More or less, the only recycling that matters is aluminum. All other recycling *only* works if subsides are in-place.

    Most plastics can't be recycled. Type 1, 2, and 3 are *recyclable* but type 1 is the only one commonly recycled.

    Most paper will degrade anyway. A lot of landfills can use this degradation to power equipment and produce electricity.
  • by Endymion ( 12816 ) <slashdot,org&thoughtnoise,net> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @03:21AM (#22632890) Homepage Journal
    yes, that would be my point
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bios_Hakr ( 68586 ) <xptical@nOSPAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @03:23AM (#22632906)
    DST seems like a pain. However, after I moved to Japan, I realized how nice it actually is. The sun coming up at 4am is not a cool thing. Makes sleeping in virtually impossible.

    So, you can change the clocks, or change your schedule. Having DST ensures that everyone changes together.
  • by MoogMan ( 442253 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @03:30AM (#22632932)
    And while you're there, use UTC. There is no sense in using timezones, it just causes pain and suffering for people that talk to others in many different countries.
  • by Phroggy ( 441 ) <.slashdot3. .at. .phroggy.com.> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @03:46AM (#22633010) Homepage

    Skip DST entirely. No clock changes at all. You want more daylight? Get up earlier. Need more time to work? Work summer hours.

    It's MUCH easier than having to change your clocks all the time. And it seems that it's much less wasteful, too.
    Because somewhere, somebody is making money on this, and they would stand to lose quite a bit if we all adopted Arizona's model. The question is, who is that somebody? Bruce Perens above said it's the charcoal briquette manufacturers; I've heard it's WalMart and other retailers (selling charcoal briquettes, but also other picnic/outdoor/camping gear). It's pretty obvious that the official reason (saving energy, which is why the DST change was attached to an energy bill) is a load of crap.

    I wouldn't be surprised if all the required computer updates cost $2 billion for IT.
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SnowZero ( 92219 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @04:31AM (#22633242)
    It's not just DST; Much of the population of Japan is at the extreme east of the longitudinal time zone. Many areas of the US lag the true zones, and you just get too accustomed to what "early" is. The solution is simple; get up earlier. That's what I did when I was working in Tokyo. Unless you work at one of the more insane places, if you get to work early enough then you can leave right at 5 without anyone complaining. If that's not possible, try to make the morning your free time. Mind you this is coming from someone who is no morning person at all; The simple truth is that you have to adapt to the local circumstances. Besides, if you live in a city there's likely a 4:30am train that will wake you up anyway even if it is dark (damn Gotanda line).

    DST is not a panacea, and is more trouble than it is worth IMO, especially when politicians start changing it for no good reason. I think we should just stick to the "early" schedule, and live with the idea that you need to get up when it is still dark in the winter. After all, you have to come home in the dark during the winter anyway, so there isn't much of a difference. The "schoolchildren excuse" doesn't really apply anymore either since few kids walk to school nowadays, and if it is really that big of a problem the school could use a later schedule for young children or alter it for part of the year.
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @04:41AM (#22633290) Homepage Journal

    Programmers that have to adapt their code to take in account daylight savings time.

    That's Arthur David Olsen for all Unix, Linux, BSD, Macintosh, and then the guy from Microsoft. It's gotta be only one guy at Microsoft, the way of handling this in Vista is so dumb.

  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kklein ( 900361 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @04:47AM (#22633320)
    I actually think that the whole Japanese time zone is wrong. The sun is up for 4 hours before anyone leaves the house, and you're still going home in the dark. It's a total waste of daylight, but it isn't a DST problem so much as it is one of the timezone being totally screwed up.
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @04:48AM (#22633322) Homepage Journal
    Here's the Zoneinfo article in Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]. Impressive.
  • by totally bogus dude ( 1040246 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:35AM (#22633492)

    Don't forget the sysadmins that have to implement the new code that tries to deal with DST!

    Exchange and SharePoint both seem to have huge issues with daylight savings. I think Microsoft must have gone out of their way to ensure they have as many different places to store timezone information as they could find. You need an update for Windows to get the new definitions; that's cool. Then you need an update for Exchange. Then there's another update for MAPI. I think there were a few more than this as well, but (fortunately) I'm not our Exchange admin. I can't believe how much of a mess it all was, though.

    Then there's the brand spankin' new SharePoint 2007, which sits around scratching its balls for an hour during DST because the part that schedules jobs to run and the part that starts them running at the scheduled clearly have different ideas about timezones. What a joke. Why does any of this even HAVE its own timezone database, and not just use the system one? It boggles the mind. Even now after their hotfixes to resolve this issue, the jobs still say they're scheduled to run at some point in the future. But hey, under the hood it works properly, so I can deal with the UI telling lies.

    Wandering even further off-topic, the human-readable part of meeting requests sent by Outlook uses the wrong timezone. Here's one I just sent myself to schedule a meeting at 6.30pm:

    When: Tuesday, 4 March 2008 6:30 PM-7:00 PM (GMT+08:00) Perth.

    Very nice, really - it tells you the exact offset from GMT so there's no question about when exactly this meeting is. Unfortunately, +0800 is our usual non-DST timezone. During DST (which we're in now until the end of March) it's +0900. Apparently the GMT+08:00 is just part of the timezone name, but it's confusing as hell to anyone who receives these messages. This is particularly problematic if you're scheduling conference calls and the like with people in other states (or countries) who can't reasonably be expected to know about WA's DST trial.

    I would've thought a problem like that would have been noticed and fixed a long time ago, given that most of the USA do have DST.

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

    by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:45AM (#22633520)

    DST seems like a pain. However, after I moved to Japan, I realized how nice it actually is. The sun coming up at 4am is not a cool thing. Makes sleeping in virtually impossible.

    Ever heard of curtains ?

    Besides, here in Finland, you go to work before sunrise and home after sunset. Not that the Sun is usually visible during daytime, either. Now that global warming has taken snow from the ground, this place makes Hades seem like a carnival.

    So don't complain that Sun rises before you do where you live.

  • by Travy.b ( 815549 ) <(travy.b) (at) (gmail.com)> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @06:15AM (#22633608)
    Skip DST entirely. No clock changes at all. You want more daylight? Get up earlier. Need more time to work? Work summer hours.

    This is what we as West Australians believed on the whole as well. The state government however had other ideas, and imposed DST on us all even though it had failed 2 previous referendums. Our capital city (perth) is a true Mediterranean climate, unlike LA with which it's often compared (LA is cooler, wetter, with less average sunshine hours per day). We have no need for it whatsoever, the general public don't want it, yet the government imposed it. Welcome to the new world... fun huh!
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by harrumph ( 178433 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @06:18AM (#22633622)
    The oil companies benefit. This was known before the new rules went into effect in the United States.

    When it's light later in the evenings, people drive more.

    People use cars in the mornings to get to work, and that doesn't change with lack of daylight.

    While the new rules expanding daylight saving time had been promoted as environmentally beneficial, the promoters only claimed it was to reduce home energy consumption (as electricity and heating fuel). The new rules were expected to increase total energy consumption as people stayed out later and used their cars more. This has meant a net increase in energy consumption, heavily weighted to increase the consumption of oil.

    While an increase in home energy consumption may surprise some, the increase in oil consumption is no surprise; it's exactly what the legislation was intended to do.

  • by Tekoneiric ( 590239 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @06:19AM (#22633628) Journal
    Why not just split the difference and adjust year around time to the half way point between standard time and daylight savings; no more switching.
  • I live in Alaska... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TFer_Atvar ( 857303 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @07:16AM (#22633878) Homepage
    When there's 22 hours of sunlight a day, it kind of makes Daylight Savings Time kinda moot. Even for folks in Ketchikan and Juneau, there can't be that much benefit. I wonder why the hell Alaska observes it.
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Rosy At Random ( 820255 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @08:08AM (#22634116) Homepage
    Because you're then out of sync with your social circle. You might have more sunlight to enjoy in the evening, but you'll spend the first hour of it on your lonesome, and head off to bed before everyone else. I've worked night-shifts; being out of sync is Not Fun.
  • Not a downside (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Woldry ( 928749 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @08:53AM (#22634364) Journal
    What's wrong with spending an hour on your lonesome? Being the antisocial curmudgeon that I am, I'd look forward to it.
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lt.com.riker ( 946759 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @08:56AM (#22634380)
    I think we're all confusing an important distinction here. Any point in time has no predefined label. When dealing with measurements it is important that a meter is always the same length and that a second is the same length, but what we call any particular second doesn't matter because it's just a handy way for us to keep an organized life.

    Maybe I can explain what I mean... So, the label of "04-March-2008 7:57am" is just a label applied to this moment in time; it's not some undeniable fact of the universe. Since we're naming it we can name it whatever we want. On another planet this same moment in time is labeled entirely different. On a planet with 30 hour days maybe this moment in time is "27:36".

    Heck on that note, why do we even make a distinction between the AM and PM? Why doesn't everyone just use 24 hour time?

    I hate to reference Star Trek, but this is the reason why a Stardate was created, so that planets, spaceships, and other interstellar outposts could all have the same time reference. A Stardate would be defined somehow so that regardless of local time all clocks throught the Federation are standardized, just like a second is standardized.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @09:27AM (#22634570)
    > 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?"

    You mean like the Swatch internet time [wikipedia.org]?

    Oh wait, I forgot that thing called UTC! (But I guess your point would be to use it globally)

    SCNR, cheers!
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bcattwoo ( 737354 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @10:00AM (#22634852)
    "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."

    My boss. Well, actually I could probably do that. But then my daughter's daycare has to agree to open an hour earlier, which means her teacher has to agree to go to work an hour earlier, my co-workers have to agree that all meetings will end an hour earlier in the afternoon, etc, etc.
  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @10:15AM (#22635002) Homepage
    Indiana isn't exactly balmy or southern, suggesting that Mr Markey is talking without any clue as to US geography (or is making excuses). The southern tip is at roughly the same latitude as D.C., and the northern end is right near Chicago.
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Heian-794 ( 834234 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:07PM (#22638650) Homepage

    Japan did indeed see DST as something not worth doing, but even before that comes the problem of what time zone Japan actually lies in.

    Look at a time zone map [metoffice.gov.uk] and you'll see most zones leaning over to the west as people try to get a little more sunlight in the evening. France and Spain are particularly noticeable. Japan, on the other hand, leans to the east. Japan's time is the same as Korea's, despite lying well east of that country, and Vladivostok lies west of Japan, yet is an hour ahead! Why did Japan do this?

    Answer: Since there are 24 time zones around the globe, and thus a new one every 15 degrees of longitude, Japan decided to base theirs on the point in their country that lies on a multiple of 15 degrees, which is a point in Hyogo prefecture. The problem is that the vast majority of the population of Japan, including almost all the big cities (Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Yokohama, Tokyo, and Sapporo) lie east of this line.

    Nobody in Okinawa clamors for DST, because the time zone positioning is just right for them. It's the people up in Sapporo whose kids are walking home from school in darkness at 4 PM who want it.

    What Japan really should do is break the country into two time zones, with the Kyushu/Shikoku side keeping the current time, and the rest of the country jumping an hour ahead. Barring that, just have the entire country jump an hour ahead and stay there permanently. It would even give them the chance to distinguish themselves from the rival Koreans just a little more!

    What we're stuck with is a country where we have to endure 28-degree (83 deg F) indoor office temperatures in the summer for the sake of power conservation, yet no thought is ever given to fixing the clocks. The cynical, conspiracy-theorist answer is that they'll never do this because the electric companies make too much money from people using their lights in the early evening!

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

    by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:39PM (#22639248) Journal
    "people seem to cope OK with them, week in week out"

    Well you can cope with not enough sleep. It doesn't mean it's good for you.

    DST offsets of 1 hour _might_ make sense in some places where daylight hours reduce by 1 or 2 hours in winter.

    But for other places I don't see the point - it's still going to be mostly dark in winter anyway. No point fooling yourself that way, after all we've already got this new fangled electric lighting thing nowadays.

    I currently live in an equatorial region, but I've stayed for a few years in a country with DST, and I don't think DST was worth the hassle.

    BTW, China has just one timezone, I'm not sure how people like solar noon happening at 15:00... I wonder when their mealtimes are in those areas.
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by leenks ( 906881 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:32PM (#22642360)
    And the managers have to issue a change request to the manager of the programmers in the other department, so that a change advisory board can sit (involving all the managers but no technical people) so they can decide which programming resources to allocate. The programmers wont ever be allowed to communicate with the request originator though, and the solution invariable wont be right because the managers changed it before it got to implementation stage, 12 meetings ad 6 months after the request went in.

    At least that's how it is where I work :(
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @09:17PM (#22644904) Homepage Journal
    The point of time zones (including DST) is that you can find out the local current GMT offset, and you'll know what hours to expect local businesses to be open. Sure, I could guess that the bank will be open 13:00 to 21:00 UTC (14:00 to 22:00 UTC during the winter), but if I went to Chicago, branches of the same bank will be open from 14:00 to 21:00 (15:00 to 22:00 in the winter), and I'd have to remember what business hours are there, instead of having a device that conveniently maps those business hours to the same business hours we use at home.

    Furthermore, in California in the winter, people working desk jobs would be leaving work on a different date than they arrived. If you were told you needed to get something in by closing time on Wednesday, you would have to figure out if you had to get it in before the closing time which is on Wednesday (UTC) or by when the business closes after opening on Wednesday (which may be the end of the Wednesday work day, but is on Thursday).

    Like it or not, there's a lot of things that are common to events that happen at noon of the time zone they happen in. If you find out something was stolen at 13:50 UTC, and you don't know where it happened, you don't know if this was a bold daylight robbery or a thief in the night. If you know it happened at 4:50 am local time somewhere, you have a better idea of what the event was like, even without knowing where it was. The fact that, in other places, businesses were open and people were around isn't very helpful.
  • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by krazytekn0 ( 1069802 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:14PM (#22645690) Homepage Journal
    I own a business in Arizona, and during the summer we start work at 6:00, when the days start cooling off and getting shorter we move to 7:00 then 7:30. Another added benefit is the the human physiology is more suited to an activity schedule that changes with the seasons. Also during the summer many employees opt to wait until shift end for lunch giving them an extra hour with their families. In the past we had not always had this dynamic schedule but upon implementing it productivity during the summer months went up greatly (no matter what kind of work you're doing, your body just doesn't seem to want to work at 4:30 in the afternoon on a 115 degree F. day)

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato