By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Tonight we "spring forward," meaning the loss of a precious hour of sleep in the name of energy conservation. (Daylight Saving Time--there's technically no 's' at the end of the middle word, though most people put it there so I'm following the herd in my headline--was first implemented to save power during the First World War.) But does it work? And is it worth the hassle?
The first question has engendered a long running debate which I'll address in a second. Rasmussen reports provides an answer to the second question with a poll released today showing that 47 percent of Americans--a plurality--believe that Daylight Saving Time just isn't worth the hassle.
Only 40 percent of Americans think the effort is worth it. According to Rasmussen, men tend to favor it more than women, and people between the ages of 40 and 64 like it more than any other age group.
Does it do what it's supposed to? We had one scholar argue a couple of years ago that in fact "there are no benefits and some very real costs from switching to Daylight Saving Time." And recent studies have shown that there is a spike in heart attacks after the switch.
More recently, a Department of Energy study has shown, however, that DST does in fact save energy, though perhaps not a great deal.
* The total electricity savings of Extended Daylight Saving Time were about 1.3 Tera Watt-hour (TWh). This corresponds to 0.5 percent per each day of Extended Daylight Saving Time, or 0.03 percent of electricity consumption over the year. In reference, the total 2007 electricity consumption in the United States was 3,900 TWh.
* In terms of national primary energy consumption, the electricity savings translate to a reduction of 17 Trillion Btu (TBtu) over the spring and fall Extended Daylight Saving Time periods, or roughly 0.02 percent of total U.S. energy consumption during 2007 of 101,000 TBtu.
How much is that? My colleague Maura Judkis put it in perspective, saying that it saves roughly the total energy used in a year by the city of Vancouver (around 106,000 households). Is that worth the hassle? Share your thoughts below.
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