DST: Think of the Energy You Save, Sleepy Heads

By March 8, 2008Energy

As we ride our DST hobby horse ahead an hour tonight, we ask again, does an early start to Daily Saving Time really save energy?

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), chairman of the House Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, has been the chief advocate of a three four-week expansion of Daylight Saving Time, arguing that the shift of working hours conserves energy. In a news release this week, he said:

Saving energy and decreasing crime help to justify this effort, and the extra evening light will make our towns, cities, front stoops and porches livelier as winter begins to wind down and we look forward to spring.

And frosty milkshakes are frostier. I drink it up!

Now, Rep. Markey could well be right, and there is indeed evidence — a much-cited UC Santa Barbara study — that more DST helps conserve. The DST provision was included in the NAM-supported 2005 Energy Policy Act on that basis.

Thing is, there are so many claims and counterclaims thrown around in the world of energy policy: Ethanol is a net gain for U.S. energy security, ethanol actually creates more problems than it solves, etc. Claims like DST-inspired conservation should be challenged, monitored, tested. You know, spring ahead but verify?From PL 109-58:

(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 due date passed December 1, 2007.

The longer a study by the Department of Transportation is delayed, the harder it becomes for Congress to exercise its right to return to the previous DST arrangement.

UPDATE (3:30 p.m. Sunday): Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) argues the energy benefits in this op-ed.

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