American in Spain

Daylight Savings Time

March 31, 2008

Europe, and the rest of the non-US world that likes taking an hour of sleep from its citizens every spring, changed over to daylight savings time this weekend. They had a special report about it on the mid-day Saturday news. The reporter was interviewing a nerdy-looking fellow who was sitting at a huge switchboard full of flickering lights and monitors showing graphs and maps and things. He was some scientist working for an important electricity provider in Spain. The man said...

Over the past several years, we've been monitoring the effects of daylight savings time. Every year, we show a huge drop in power usage after the time change because people are turning on their lights an hour later. And it really is a significant change! The total energy savings every evening due to daylight savings time is X.

At about this time, I turn to my wife and say, "You know, that really makes a lot of sense. This is why the US Congress moved daylight savings time up a couple weeks starting last year. Also, I heard that it was originally invented to save on candles."1

About this time, the man the the telly continued...

But... Although we see a significant drop of energy usage of X in the evenings, we see a rise of energy usage in the mornings of exactly X. The same lights that are turned on an hour later at night are turned on an hour earlier every morning, thus resulting in a zero net energy savings due to daylight savings time.

So I turn to my wife and say, "You know, that makes a lot of sense. Daylight savings time is stupid."

1It turns out that daylight savings time was really invented to play more golf in the evenings. Figures.