Daylight Savings Time: Are We Really Saving Anything?

Daylight Savings Time starts this Sunday, March 13, switching one hour of daylight from morning to evening. Love it or hate it, we ask: How much “savings” do we really get out of it? 

Daylight Savings was first legally proposed in the US in 1918 by Robert Garland, a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native, although Benjamin Franklin and others had written about it previously. President Woodrow Wilson signed it into law, but it was repealed seven months later. Some cities like Pittsburgh, Boston, and New York continued to implement Daylight Savings anyway until President Franklin D. Roosevelt reintroduced it countrywide in 1942.

Daylight Savings Time was originally intended to save energy. With the sun rising and setting at a later time, the mindset was that people would use less electricity (or candles in Benjamin Franklin’s time). But in recent times, a number of studies (Does Daylight Saving Time Save Energy? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Indiana and Behavioral Responses to Daylight Savings Time) have shown the opposite to be true. With less natural light in the morning, people use more electricity to light their homes, and with more light and heat in the evening, they actually use more electricity for air conditioning.

“It can shift some of our field work start times, but we enjoy knowing that the summer field season is just around the corner.”

Steve Gould, Senior Vice President, Director of Energy Business Unit

Beyond just throwing off morning routines, other studies have linked Daylight Savings to a number of social outcomes like an increase in heart attacks, criminal behavior, and economic stimulation. It affects GAI’s business as well, as noted by Senior Vice President and Energy Director Steve Gould. “It can shift some of our field work start times, but we enjoy knowing that the summer field season is just around the corner.”

Whatever your opinion on the legitimacy of Daylight Savings Time, remember to “spring forward” and set your clocks one hour ahead this Sunday. Standard Time will resume on Sunday, November 6, 2016.

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