DoES Daylight Savings actually save energy?

What is Daylight Savings?

Daylight Savings (DST) is a global practice of shifting clocks one hour forward in the springtime and then reverting them to standard time in the autumn.

The idea is to provide an extra hour of daylight in the evenings for two purposes: to get people to spend more time outside, and to reduce our energy consumption. In essence, if the sun is up for an extra hour in the day, that’s one more hour that we could spend outdoors – and away from our electrical devices. Also, it’s one less hour that we’ll need to use indoor lighting.

Who created the concept?

DST was originally thought up by Benjamin Franklin in 1784, when he proposed the idea of a seasonal time change. However, it was only during World War I that DST was practised on a national level. By 1966, the Uniform Time Act had taken effect to make this a standard practice globally.

Is it effective in saving energy?

The short answer: not really. A U.S Department of Transportation report showed that DST reduced electricity usage by 1%. A European study also found that lighting usage decreased a little but was outweighed by an increase in heating by 9%.

Similarly, a report published by the National Bureau of Economic Research showed that while lighting usage decreased, these numbers did not outweigh the rise in demand for heating.

Ultimately, if DST does make a difference in our energy consumption, it’s only slight. And the little difference it makes isn’t enough to compensate for the rising demand for heating energy.

Other pros and cons

Turning our clocks back and forth has shown to have some very unexpected consequences. For instance, international data has shown that break-ins drop by 7%, while activities like cycling and walking jump in popularity.

However, studies also show a rise in car accidents, injuries and suicides in the weeks after the time change, most likely as a result of sleep deprivation. Others have cited the repetitive switching in times to be socially and economically disruptive. This is especially because productivity rates are seen to drop during the transition phases.

The debate of whether or not the time change is worth it has been ongoing. A 2019 YouGov poll showed that a slight majority of Brits were in favour of the practice, while 39% believed it should be scrapped.

Will Daylight Savings be scrapped?

In 2019, the EU held a vote to scrap the time change, after 84% of European citizens voted towards abolishing it. This would have meant switching to Daylight Savings Time permanently after the spring of 2021. However, the plan was put aside during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Likewise, the US congress voted earlier this year to abolish the time change as of March 2023. Thus, it’s seeming more and more likely that the practice will be scrapped in the next coming years.

Still, for the time being, we hope you enjoyed the extra hour of sleep on the weekend the clocks went back!

Research Source:

Previous articleGreen gas community is a UK first
Next articleEast Anglian architects win top national award