ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Changes to DST doesn't save energy.

Ken Fisher at Ars Technica points out what everybody with even a rudimentary understanding of mathematics or just simple logic*, knew when it was proposed, simply the shift in the DST enacted by Congress would not (and did not) accomplish what it was intended for, namely saving energy.

The US government's plan to boost energy savings by moving Daylight Saving Time forward by three weeks was apparently a waste of time and effort, as the technological foibles Americans experienced failed to give way to any measurable energy savings.

While the change caused no major infrastructure problems in the country, plenty of electronics and computer systems that were designed with the original DST switchover date (first Sunday in April) failed to update. The inconvenience was minor, and the potential savings were great. Or so we were told by the politicians behind the move.

As it turns out, the US Department of Energy (and almost everyone else except members of Congress) was correct when they predicted that there would be little energy savings. This echoed concerns voiced after a similar experiment was attempted in Australia. Critics pointed out a basic fact: the gains in the morning will be offset by the losses at night, and vice-versa, at both ends of the switch. That appears to be exactly what happened.

I would point that for American business the inconvenience was more than just minor, as every computer system had to be evaulated for a potential DST impact. As someone that works in the computer industry, it was shades of Y2K all over again.

It would have taken a lot of energy savings to cover the waste in human productivity associated with the DST switch. The fact that it generated no savings is just a travesty. But hey, at least they looked busy! Just wait until they get into the CO2-offset regulation business! They'll really look like they are doing something.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Comments (2)
St Wendeler said...

Let's not forget the main reason why they moved DST - to make everyone think that they were "doing something" to save energy.


George said...

For the technically challenged, here are a few reasons why the current DST scheme (or any other, for that matter) can't work.

1. You aren't saving energy by getting up an hour earlier each day.

2. There are more hours of darkness in a day between the Autumn equinox and the Spring equinox than there are hours of daylight.

3. The Autumn equinox occurs in the third week of September; the Spring equinox occurs in the third week of March. Switching to DST before the Spring equinox and back after the Autumn equinox gets you up in the dark and gets you home from work after dark.

4. Please note that the night sky is lit just as brightly during DST as it is during Standard Time. All the stores that stay open 24/7 continue to do so; all the stores that stay open until 10 or 11 PM continue to do so. SUVs are still driven at all hours of the day and night; semis still ply the Interstate system 24/7. Life continues apace whether the clock is set to DST or not.

We are not saving energy by getting up an hour earlier than usual during DST.