It’s early Sunday morning. Our clocks “spring forward” an hour even as the position of the Earth relative to the sun barely changed. Thanks for nothing, Daylight Savings Time.
Like millions of Americans, I wake up groggy. That grogginess (and grumpiness) spills into Monday and the rest of the week as our internal clocks have to yet again adjust to the sudden shift.
We do this absurd clock-changing ritual twice every year despite research showing an elevated risk of heart attacks, mental disorders, and immune-related diseases. One study found that workers lose 40 minutes of sleep on the Monday following DST, which leads to an increase in workplace injuries.
Meanwhile, the justification for the biannual disruption to our daily routines is supposed energy conservation based on research from the 1970s that found one-percent savings in electricity use.
However, more recent research shows that Daylight Savings Time actually had the opposite effect. That research comes courtesy of none other than the state of Indiana. You may recall that the state wisely opted out of DST until former governor Mitch Daniels moved the state to DST in 2005.
According to Scientific American:
In 2006 Indiana instituted daylight saving statewide for the first time. (Before then, daylight time confusingly was in effect in just a handful of Indiana’s counties.) Examining electricity usage and billing since the statewide change, Kotchen and his colleague Laura Grant unexpectedly found that daylight time led to a 1 percent overall rise in residential electricity use, costing the state an extra $9 million. Although daylight time reduces demand for household lighting, the researchers suggest that it increased demand for cooling on summer evenings and heating in early spring and late fall mornings. They hope to publish their conclusions this year in the Quarterly Journal of Economics.
You read that correctly. The study found that Indiana’s electricity usage went up after the switch to statewide DST. So we both lost sleep and money. Great!
Is there any hope that we might get rid of the godforsaken abomination that is Daylight Savings Time?
California voters approved a proposition in 2018 that could eventually lead the state to observe year-round DST. However, Congress would need to approve a change to the Uniform Time Act, which does not currently allow year-round DST. (The federal law does allow year-round standard time though.)
If the nation’s largest state manages to break free of the “fall back” and “spring forward” cycle, we may see momentum build in other states. Or Congress could just amend the Uniform Time Act to make DST year-round in the whole country.
Stopping this nonsense is an easy way to score points with voters. Politicians in favor of doing away with DST would be doing us – and themselves – a favor.
Image Credit: Du Truong, Flickr