I have long been a noisy opponent of this whole time-changing business, enjoying my long summer evenings and not understanding why we had to go and make winter any more dreary. Today, I learned that we just went OFF Daylight Saving Time, and next year, we are slated to extend DST by approximately 30%. Daylight Saving Time, rather than an annoying and tedious holdover from a bygone era, is actually a collective decision (on the part of our lawmakers) to get up an hour early all spring and summer to take advantage of the sunny mornings. The original rationale of saving electricity even still applies: Daylight Saving Time trims the entire country's electricity usage by about one percent each day. People who rise before the sun use more electricity for lighting and small appliances in their homes during DST, but their costs are more than offset by the energy saved by those who are home in the evenings. And that's not all.
It also saves oil. In 1973, Congress extended Daylight Saving Time to 8 months (about the same duration as it will be next year), rather than the normal six months. During that time, the U.S. Department of Transportation found that observing Daylight Saving Time in March and April saved the equivalent in energy of 10,000 barrels of oil each day. Adding the entire month of April to Daylight Saving Time is estimated to save the U.S. about 300,000 barrels of oil each year.
And, it turns out there are other benefits beyond energy savings. Traffic accidents are reduced by one percent, and violent crime goes down 10-13 percent.
So why, you may ask, don't we continue Daylight Saving Time all year? Two reasons: 1) people are attached to the idea of the sun rising to its pinnacle at 12:00, and 2) you need enough light in the morning for business to proceed. So please accept my apologies, gentle DST, for all the years of complaining about the nuisance of changing clocks. Now I know you were only doing your best to help me save up sunlight for the long dark winter.
Find out more at http://webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/g.html.