Why is daylight savings time still a thing?
That made me wonder — who is it that is supporting this game of clocks? Who cares? Or is it simply institutional inertia?
I went looking, and found one source with some arguments for it.
This study stood as gospel for years, with little research conducted to support or refute it. Then, in May 2001, the California Energy Commission spearheaded a study to analyze the effects of winter DST and double daylight saving time (a two-hour time shift) on the state’s electricity usage. The study concluded that winter DST would cut winter peak electricity use by 3.4 percent. Summer double DST would result in smaller reductions, but would still be beneficial because it would shift electricity use from high-demand afternoon hours to low-demand morning hours. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reported similar findings in 2008 after conducting research as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. According to DOE data, DST resulted in total electricity savings of about 1.3 terawatt-hours, or 0.03 percent of electricity consumption over the year.
OK, that’s a real savings — a tiny savings, but if the data supports it, it’s better than nothing. It’s hard to believe that people are serious about it, though: if you want big savings, recommend that people adjust their thermostats to a less energy-intensive regime. Wouldn’t that make more sense if your concern is reducing energy consumption?
But here come the real supporters, and they’re very silly.
The benefits of daylight saving time go beyond energy conservation, if you believe its supporters. Advocates of the practice argue that allowing drivers to return home in the daylight reduces traffic accidents during the evening rush hour. They also suggest that DST prevents crime because it limits a person’s exposure to criminals, who usually conduct their business under the cloak of darkness. Finally, the sports and recreation industries are rabid fans of daylight saving time. In 1986, for example, representatives of the golf industry lobbied for extended DST, arguing that an extra month of DST was worth up to $400 million annually in extra sales and fees.
So, paranoid golfers are behind DST? I knew it had to be a Republican conspiracy.