DST Causes Increased Energy Consumption?
March 9, 2009 5:18pm CST
I read an interesting report today about Daylight Savings Time. DST was put into effect to save energy, but Matthew Kotchen and Laura Grant of University of California at Santa Barbara did a study that found that DST actually increases energy use. You can read their paper on this study at http://www2.bren.ucsb.edu/~kotchen/links/DSTpaper.pdf The abstract: "The history of Daylight Saving Time (DST) has been long and controversial. Throughout its implementation during World Wars I and II, the oil embargo of the 1970s, consistent practice today, and recent extensions, the primary rationale for DST has always been to promote energy conservation. Nevertheless, there is surprisingly little evidence that DST actually saves energy. This paper takes advantage of a natural experiment in the state of Indiana to provide the first empirical estimates of DST effects on electricity consumption in the United States since the mid-1970s. Focusing on residential electricity demand, we conduct the first-ever study that uses micro-data on households to estimate an overall DST effect. The dataset consists of more than 7 million observations on monthly billing data for the vast majority of households in southern Indiana for three years. Our main finding is that—contrary to the policy’s intent—DST increases residential electricity demand. Estimates of the overall increase are approximately 1 percent, but we find that the effect is not constant throughout the DST period. DST causes the greatest increase in electricity consumption in the fall, when estimates range between 2 and 4 percent. These findings are consistent with simulation results that point to a tradeoff between reducing demand for lighting and increasing demand for heating and cooling. We estimate a cost of increased electricity bills to Indiana households of $9 million per year. We also estimate social costs of increased pollution emissions that range from $1.7 to $5.5 million per year. Finally, we argue that the effect is likely to be even stronger in other regions of the United States." What do you think of their findings? Are you for or against Daylight Savings Time? Should we keep it in effect or do away with it?
• United States
9 Mar 09
I agree with them and I think the adding of the 2 weeks earlier in the Spring, really Winter, is really bad about wasting energy. Just as it is starting to be light when a majority of people get up and the heat doesn't have to run as much when they are getting up, using programmable thermostats, the time changes back to having to get up in the dark and the cold and having to use lights and have the heat set higher when it is still colder. Also there is what it does to students. There have been all kinds of studies showing how less sleep and getting up early causes bad grades and this change means that the kids have to get up in the dark and early in morning when there is no light outside which is the time that kids and adults sleep best.
16 Mar 09
Hmm... I never had this problem of daylight savings where I am. So I cannot really say I am for it or against it. Reading the report, I would say it causes people to use more electricity than to cut it. I guess this is partly due to the kind of activities that goes on when the DST kicks in. With so much activity that requires electricity (from heating to internet surfing to watching TV on a bigger screen... etc), I am not surprised if the usages increases simply because more people are staying home. What difference does it make if the DST were to be abolished? Activities will still be the same, and usages will just follow the same or similar pattern, no?