Every time I hear that I have to reset my clocks, both internal and external, because of Daylight Savings Time, I get irritated at another unnecessary burden that is placed on myself and nearly all Americans.
Benjamin Franklin first proposed the idea to save candles, though it wasn’t enacted until 1918 as a way to save energy during World War I. Almost a hundred years later, the government still clings to this outdated idea, still justifying it in the name of saving energy. In 2005, President George W. Bush increased the length of DST, and we all know what a great “decider” he was.
But studies in Australia and Indiana show that DST doesn’t save any energy at all. Actually, it probably increases energy use. In 2006, Indiana standardized the state’s use of DST. A study of the resulting energy use conducted by the University of California in 2008 found that energy use increased by one percent, because the savings in electricity used for lighting was more than offset by energy loss to air conditioning and heating.
So all DST really does is aggravate people and upset their daily rhythm. Especially heinous is the vernal shift, when you’re forced to adjust your body clock to getting up an hour earlier. The resulting loss of sleep means people aren’t as alert the Monday morning after the change, resulting in an estimated $434 million annual loss in productivity. The time change also is tied to an increase in heart attacks and car wrecks.
Not every country on earth thinks DST is a good idea. In fact, it’s enforced only in Australia, North America and some countries in Europe. The continents of Asia, South America and Africa get by just fine without it. And not even every state in the U.S. has it, with Arizona and Hawaii choosing to opt out.
Another argument for DST is that it provides more daylight at the end of the day. But that’s a weak argument, because for that hour of light you gain at the end of the day, you lose that same hour in the morning. If you have a commute to work, every spring when your time changes, you’ll find yourself getting up and driving to work in the dark. If you’re a student who rides an early school bus, you’ll be out waiting for the bus in the dark and cold. If you’re a morning person, or like to go for an early run, your light is suddenly taken away.
DST is a bad idea, and it’s time to get rid of it. Federal law allows states to become exempt, either by legislative or executive action, depending on the state. While DST may not seem like a big issue, it’s one that would be easy to fix and it would be one less little thing to drive us crazy.