Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Daylight Saving Time (DST) - The biggest lie passed by (the recent) congress

Every once in a while a law is passed that really upsets me. Usually these are laws that try and fix imaginary problems or laws that have the direct opposite effect than they were anticipated to have. Some examples in recent history would be anti-logging legislation that killed the one industry that kept forests from becoming engulfed in flames annually(of course some environmentalist seem to enjoy the smoke), the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that turned the recording industry mafia (RIAA) into its own police force, and then the recent Energy Bill that had a small section changing Daylight Saving Time (DST) to begin about a month earlier and end about a week or so later than previous years.

The purpose of that last bill was to save energy. Whatever arguments people have for it, the only one mentioned in the law was to save energy. That's it!

Without me getting too far off topic, read the history of DST from the California Energy Dept. In that piece there is a paragraph that states why DST saves energy. It states

"...the biggest reasons we change our clocks to Daylight Saving Time (DST) is that it saves energy. Energy use and the demand for electricity for lighting our homes is directly connected to when we go to bed and when we get up. Bedtime for most of us is late evening through the year. When we go to bed, we turn off the lights and TV.

In the average home, 25 percent of all the electricity we use is for lighting and small appliances, such as TVs, VCRs and stereos. A good percentage of energy consumed by lighting and appliances occurs in the evening when families are home. By moving the clock ahead one hour, we can cut the amount of electricity we consume each day."

Do you believe it?

How can you say that shifting time (not really a saving) will save energy when people watch TV, listen to stereos, watch movies, and run their appliances regardless of the position of the sun at the current time. And how is it that by shifting the time these appliances will no longer be used... or magically stop using as much power. They state that people will spend more time outside during the summer evenings because there is more sun time.... well, guess what, it's summer and people spend more time outside anyway, regardless of what the clock says.

Ben Franklin thought it was a good idea back when businesses used oil lamps to light their establishments when there was not enough sunlight to light everything. But now, lights are on ALL THE TIME in every place of business that I've been in. From McDonalds to High Schools, lights are on regardless of the sun. It's just normal to show up in the morning when it is dark, turn the lights on, and then turn them off when you go home.

Well, there was a study reported here that states that DST does not save energy at all.

The study compared electric demand in the state of Victoria, which extended DST, with its next-door neighbor, South Australia, which did not. "Our results show that the extension failed to conserve electricity. If it's dark enough in the morning that pretty much everyone has to turn on the lights. What that means is that that increase in morning electricity consumption is going to be so big that it offsets any benefits we get from the extra light in the evening. In fact shifting Australians' clocks led to a tiny increase in power use."

Well, I don't believe every study, even ones that I agree with. However, it is interesting that we are establishing a policy based on a DOE study that was done 30 years ago compared to recent studies that show it doesn't change anything.

What do I think would save more energy???? I'm glad you asked! How about educating people to not only turn off the television, stereo, DVD player, Satellite/Cable receiver, and computer... but also use a power strip and "unplug" them from the wall. On average, these appliances use 10% of their power rating just sitting there. That would save a lot. How about installing energy efficient light bulbs. I really feel like these things would save so much more energy than turning your clock forward, but they aren't fun to argue about in Congress. And it seems congress wants to do things to appear to save energy instead of telling people to take matters into their own hands and freak'n save energy themselves! No matter what conservation law passes through the halls of Capitol Hill, the only people that can save energy is you and I... but it makes us feel better when we can see daylight at 10:00pm instead of 5am.


deidra zoe said...

Yeah, bad policy is annoying. And there is lots of it.

Chris and I switched to energy efficient light bulbs. We're totally into saving the world like that. Do YOU unplug your power strip? That seems like too much for me to remember.

CF said...

I am in awe of your knowledge and wisdom. Thank you for expanding my understanding oh Great Sensei. I will forever curse the day I learned of daylight savings=-)

chartie said...

Plus the price of oil has risen since daylight savings, which some surveys suggest could be tied to the early start of daylight savings time. Keep on crusading, Chod.