Did More Daylight Saving Time Save Energy?

By December 9, 2007Energy

Reading Ed Markey’s news release attacking President Bush’s threatened veto of the anti-energy bill, we recall the Congressman helped push through the earlier start to Daylight Saving Time. Supposedly the extended DST would save lots of energy. Well, did it?

From the 2005 Energy Policy Act, PL109-58:

(a) AMENDMENT.—Section 3(a) of the Uniform Time Act of 1966
(15 U.S.C. 260a(a)) is amended—
(1) by striking ‘‘first Sunday of April’’ and inserting ‘‘second
Sunday of March’’; and
(2) by striking ‘‘last Sunday of October’’ and inserting ‘‘first
Sunday of November’’.
(b) EFFECTIVE DATE.—Subsection (a) shall take effect 1 year
after the date of enactment of this Act or March 1, 2007, whichever
is later.
(c) REPORT TO CONGRESS.—Not later than 9 months after the
effective date stated in subsection (b), the Secretary shall report
to Congress on the impact of this section on energy consumption
in the United States.
(d) RIGHT TO REVERT.—Congress retains the right to revert
the Daylight Saving Time back to the 2005 time schedules once
the Department study is complete.

The Secretary in this case is the Secretary of Transportation, who overseas time zones in the United States.

Nine months after March 1 is December 1, right? So where’s the report?

UPDATE (7:45 a.m. Monday): Very informed speculation in the comments section by Jack Duffy.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Jack Duffy says:

    Interesting thought. I’m also wondering where the report is. There are some indications that another month on daylight saving time is causing an increase, rather than a decrease, in energy consumption.

    According to a April 5, 2007 article It is now evident that daylight-saving time effectively changes habits that cause us to use more, not less, energy. An April 5, 2007 article in USA Today cited figures from the Energy Information Administration showing the steady rate of 9.08 million barrels of crude oil per day consumed in the same three weeks of March when we were on standard time in 2005 (but now on daylight time) and 9.07 million barrels per day from the Second Sunday of March to First Sunday of April in 2006. Then during the same time period of 2007, we consumed 9.31 million barrels of oil a day, a significant 2.8% increase.

    This non-renewable energy source is being wasted because more consumers are obviously driving around more in the additional hour of evening daylight this year as opposed to previous years. The price of gas went up earlier in March this year than in previous years. It makes sense that if demand is up, the price will go up as well.

    As for electricity consumption, I’ve heard news reports stating that electricity consumption has been unchanged by the earlier observance of daylight-saving time. We should focus on the increased consumption of gasoline, a non-renewable resource.

    According to a study out of Berkeley by Ryan Kellogg and Hendrik Wolff of the university’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, changing to daylight saving time earlier may use more energy because of increased demand when it’s dark in the morning. The authors studied an earlier springtime DST change in Australia prior to the 2000 Olympics to arrive at this conclusion. The authors also question if this clock change saves energy like it used to because “the widespread adoption of air conditioning has altered intraday patterns of electricity consumption.” (see http://www.ucei.berkeley.edu/PDF/csemwp163.pdf)

    My question is this: If daylight-saving time causes us to use more energy during the three weeks of March, does it also cause greater energy usage at other times during the year? Would we be better off reducing the number daylight-saving time months to save energy? Would it help us save energy if we abandon this ill-conceived practice altogether?

Leave a Reply