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Daylight Savings in the Modern World?

Schwarzwald_Uhr_Kupferstiche-ClockYes, I know. Set the clocks ahead one hour tonight. As a friend of mine wisely noted today, “All of these reminders to set my clock 1 hour forward. Too bad we didn’t have Facebook in the ’80s. My smartphone and computer automatically takes care of these things now.” Welcome to the modern world!.

But all of this begs the question. Why on earth do we, like clockwork, set the clocks forward and backward every year?

BenFranklinDuplessis

A brief history of daylight savings time:

1. Founding Father Benjamin Franklin encouraged changing the clocks in order to save on candles. (1)

Response: I’m not sure about you, but I have a few dozen candles I would like to be rid of. Thank you electricity.

2. It was used during WWII to conserve energy. (1)

Response: Again, we have this problem of historic necessity. Just in case it was in doubt: WWII is over.

The real question is: are there are any good reasons to continue daylight savings time in the modern world. The predominant reasons given for daylight savings are the same reasons given historically–to save money and energy. And who doesn’t want to save money and energy? But, the cheerleader “rah, rah save energy and money” theme needs more than words; it needs outcomes.

Does daylight savings time (in actuality) save us money or energy? The answer seems to be no for both. Most studies show little or no energy savings with daylight savings time. According to one study, “In Indiana, daylight saving time caused a 1 percent jump in electricity.” (2)

If we aren’t saving energy, we aren’t saving money. If we are saving neither time nor money, then the reasons for daylight savings time are moot.

Interesting tidbit: States are not required by federal law to participate in daylight savings time. Hawaii and Arizona are the lucky two states that have chosen not to participate.

References:

(1)  http://news.discovery.com/human/health/why-do-we-have-daylight-savings-time.htm

(2) http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2013/0308/Daylight-saving-time-Can-springing-ahead-save-energy-or-money

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