Does Daylight Saving Time Actually Conserve Energy?
If you’re tired of the streetlights coming on before you’ve left work for the day, you’re in luck! Daylight saving time – coming soon! – pushes sunset times later into the evening and allows for more natural light in our afternoon schedules. Many people see the time period as a trade off – we lose an hour of sleep but gain more sunlight. Some will argue that we also save on energy. Whether the last point is true, however, is up for debate.
There has been much back and forth as to why we change our clocks roughly every six months (no, it has nothing to do with farmers). The concept was actually conceived in order to conserve resources (such as candles that had to be used during dark evenings) during World War I.
Some believe that daylight saving time conserves energy, as consumers will use less electricity in the evenings if there is more natural light from outside. In a study from the 1970s, the U.S. Department of Transportation confirmed this idea (but not by much), which showed that the time change cut American’s electricity use by 1 percent.
In the past years, however, our energy usage and patterns have drastically changed, and lighting has become more efficient. A recent report finds that the time change during the spring causes an increase in the amount of electricity used, due to a higher demand for air conditioning on summer nights and more heat and artificial light needed on early spring and fall mornings. In 2007, when Congress extended daylight saving time by four weeks, a separate Department of Energy study noted that the nation saved about 0.03 percent on electricity in those four weeks.
Studies on energy use continue to conflict (different geographic locations exhibit different results) and any actual impact due to a one-hour time change is negligible. One thing, however, is certain – you can balance out your energy usage at any point in the year with carbon offsets. For just a few dollars each month, you can support renewable energy projects that reduce carbon emissions, help slow climate change and reduce the size of your carbon footprint. Click here for more information on how TerraPass carbon offsets reduce greenhouse gas emissions and purchase your carbon offsets today!
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