If I Could Turn Back Time

Congress thinks it has found a painless way to reduce energy use in the United States: extending daylight savings time four weeks. The theory behind the change is that more daylight in the evenings means less need for artificial light.

One of the primary reasons for the decision was to promote energy-saving technology. According to an article in Reuters:

Rep. Ed Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat who pushed to expand daylight saving time as part of a broader measure passed by Congress in 2005 encouraging new energy technologies, sees nothing but sunshine in the idea.


The energy savings would translate into a 10.8 million-metric-ton reduction in carbon emissions over the next 13 years, Markey said, citing an analysis by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Some critics, however, don’t think that people will save energy because of the switch. Two researchers who studied extended daylight savings time in Australia found that the change could actually result in greater energy consumption. In an article on

In a University of California Energy Institute working paper, Ryan Kellogg and Hendrik Wolff of UC Berkeley's Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics contend that the extension of DST won't cut back energy consumption by the proffered goal of 1 percent and could actually increase it.


Their study is the first to report that the extension of DST- the adjustment by an hour or so of standard time to more closely match the solar day with regular human activities - does not save electricity or promote more efficient energy usage.

Although people do use less energy at night because daylight lasts into the evening hours, they use more energy in the morning. The two essentially balance each other out with no added benefit, according to the researchers.

Extending daylight savings time may have seemed like a foolproof way to reduce energy use and cut emissions, but the legislative branch may have jumped the gun on this one. Even though we’ve been pleading for Congress to take action on global warming while they demand more studies, we think that there could have been a little more research on this one before springing forward into action. (And it’s not just because we’re still bitter about losing that extra hour of sleep. We swear.)


Sometime ago there was a study
that said working six hours with no
lunch break would result in higher
efficiency than an eight hour day
with a lunch break. We could use
a staggered workday to alleviate
traffic. Shorter work days would allow
businesses to shut off the lights
earlier or turn them on later.
Individuals quality of life could improve.