In the Wall Street Journal, Jo Craven McGinty examines the pro and con equation for Daylight Saving Time. The US government, of course, says it saves electricity by their measurement:
The historic reason for observing daylight-saving time — which ends at 2 a.m. on Sunday when clocks revert to standard time — is to conserve energy, by pushing sunlight forward into the evening, reducing the need for electric lights.
The U.S. government has found the strategy works. But two academic studies published in peer-reviewed journals rebut the idea, and one even concludes the policy increases demand for electricity.
The most recent government study, by the Department of Energy, tested whether expanding daylight-saving time by four weeks in 2007 reduced the use of electricity, as intended.
The study examined the additional weeks of daylight-saving time using data provided by 67 utilities accounting for two-thirds of U.S. electricity consumption. It compared average daily use in 2006, when there was no daylight saving, with the same period in 2007 when the extension took effect and found a reduction in electricity use of 0.5% in the spring and 0.38% in the fall.
However, non-government studies don’t agree:
The study, which was published in the Review of Economics and Statistics, examined residential data only, but the researchers didn’t believe commercial use would alter their findings.
“Big-box stores don’t turn on or off lights based on whether it’s light outside or dark,” Mr. Kotchen said. “In a commercial building, the lights are on when people are working no matter what.”
Rather than conserving electricity, the study found that daylight-saving time increased demand for electricity. Conditions may vary in other parts of the country, but the study concluded that Indiana is representative of much of the country.
That doesn’t mean daylight-saving time has never worked since its introduction during World War I. But, said Mr. Kotchen, “the world has changed. Lighting is a small amount of energy and electricity use in households. The big things are heating and cooling, particularly as air conditioning has become more prevalent. We’re fooling ourselves to continue calling it an energy policy given the studies that show it doesn’t save energy.”
H/T to Terence Corcoran for the link.