Daylight Saving Time Makes No Sense

This Sunday we will again do the crazy switch: “Daylight Savings Time”. But the assertion that Daylight “Saving” Time “saves” energy is bunk. It is simply a stupid and anachronistic idea. It serves no documentable purpose and should be done away with.

Not only have the positive effects of DST never been conclusively documented. On the contrary! In recent years, there has been a growing body of scientific evidence showing an increase in energy consumption during DST.

The idea behind DST was that more daylight in the afternoon would reduce the need for artificial lighting, thus cutting down on energy costs.

But as it turns out, more light (and heat) in the afternoon also means an increased demand for air conditioning, which results in a net increase in energy usage. These are the findings of a 2008 study by two University of California, Santa Barbara researchers. “I’ve never had a paper with such a clear and unambiguous finding as this,” said lead researcher Matthew Kotchen.

Studies conducted in Japan, Australia and the State of Indiana have reached similar conclusions.

In the U.S., the situation is rather bizarre: some states switch to DST, others don’t. In the State of Indiana, some counties have DST. Others don’t. So if one drives though the state, the time jumps!

There is similar confusion around the globe. Some countries switch to DST, others don’t. Some (just to top everyone else in terms of absurdity) switch only one half hour forward and back.

Here is a world map showing DST usage:

Legend: DST implemented (blue), DST not implemented (red), DST formerly used but now abolished (orange). Click to enlarge.

Of course, this impacts telecommunications, the travel industry, navigation and international business.

It is idiotic (to say the least!).

By the way: another false myth about DST is that Benjamin Franklin suggested it. Not true! Franklin merely suggested that getting up earlier (with the sun) and going to bed earlier would be more efficient – considering that most illumination in his days came from (expensive) candles and oil lamps.

Franklin is said to have remarked: “Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”. In 1784, he also published an anonymous letter, which satirically suggested taxing shutters, rationing candles, and waking the public by ringing church bells and firing cannons at sunrise. Of course he was not serious. And he never suggested to move the clocks back and forth.

Here is an organization with the goal of abolishing DST for good:

(Adapted from my blog post of 03/07, 2008)

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Journalist and media professional currently based in Los Angeles, California. Focusing on science and technology.