Down With DST

I think that Arizona's decision not to go on DST is a great one.  Being outside in the summer sunshine in Phoenix can be miserable, but the desert cools very quickly once the sun goes down.  The earlier the sun goes down in the summer, the better as far as I am concerned.  Within an hour or two after sunset, it is pleasant to sit and eat and play outside.

A new study seems to show that DST increases electricity use, rather than reducing it.  DST was, if my memory serves, a WWII innovation to save electricity.  It does so quite well if electricity demand is driven mainly by lighting.  It lets one read and function by sunlight in the evening hours.   However, as air conditioning has become a larger element of electricity demand, that equation is changing.  DST can lead to higher air conditioning loads in the evenings.

Our main finding is that"”contrary to the policy's intent"”DST increases
residential electricity demand. Estimates of the overall increase range
from 1 to 4 percent, but we find that the effect is not constant
throughout the DST period. There is some evidence of electricity
savings during the spring, but the effect lessens, changes sign, and
appears to cause the greatest increase in consumption near the end of
the DST period in the fall. These findings are consistent with
simulation results that point to a tradeoff between reducing demand for
lighting and increasing demand for heating and cooling. Based on the
dates of DST practice before the 2007 extensions, we estimate a cost of
increased electricity bills to Indiana households of $8.6 million per
year. We also estimate social costs of increased pollution emissions
that range from $1.6 to $5.3 million per year.


  1. ErikTheRed:

    Can we kill DST just because it's friggin' annoying? I gaze with envy at our non-clock-adjusting neighbors in Arizona....

  2. David B:

    I'm with you - I had previously written about this here and here.

    I'm very glad to hear that Arizona is rejecting the dumbness - hopefully other states will follow suit.

  3. Bearster:

    Is it the proper role of government to micromanage even down to our clocks and our toilet flushes?

  4. jt:

    Don't forget that an extra hour of sunshine every day certainly contributes to global warming...

  5. DE644:

    A small correction. DST was a WW2 invention. It was not to save on electricity, but to give people more daylight to work in their Victory Gardens. Victory Gardens went out with WW2 as DST should have. I am sure, however, that here in the Soviet of WA they will never understand how irritating DST is.

  6. Dan:

    If, like me, you lived in Chicago, where the sun sets at 4:20 in mid-December and even now still sets pretty early at 5:40, you'd be pining for DST, as I am right now!

    Interesting about the energy savings, however. Probably a bigger factor in places like Arizona than here in Chicago, where I live near the lake. Lake Michigan has a cooling effect which really reduces our air conditioning use in the summer.

  7. Rob:

    AMEN and AMEN.

    I loved NOT changing all of the damned clocks in the house when we lived in Indiana. (I understand that Indiana lost its mind and now observed DST)

    My wife has a particularly hard time adjusting to it. For three to six weeks she drags through the day.

    Stop screwing with my day, dadgummit!

    AMEN and AMEN.

  8. Jon:

    Count me in as a fan of DST. I understand your argument for Arizona, but for the rest of the country that has decided _not_ to live in 115 degree Phoenix, it's awfully nice.

    And, it's origins go back long before WWII:

  9. Anonymous:

    A bigger correction - Daylight Savings Time was a Ben Franklin invention.

  10. basher20:

    Don't change it this year or next. I'm not patching and testing 125 servers again any time soon.

  11. Highway:

    I actually prefer Daylight Saving Time. I even like the ritual of dealing with the clocks.

    It might matter that I'm on the middle to eastern side of the time zone, rather than being on the western side of the time zone. I know in trips to michigan, in the middle of the summer, with DST, they've got sunlight until like 10 pm, which is weird.

    It's almost like time zones should shift halfway eastward instead of a blanket DST.

  12. eCurmudgeon:

    While we're at it, can we work on getting rid of time zones as well? Move everyone over to GMT and be done with it once and for all...

  13. Alan Gunn:

    I don't much care which, but it would be nice if everybody either observed or didn't observe DST. Until a few years ago, my part of Indiana wasn't on DST, while the next county west and most other states were. So for half the year we were on the same time as our neighbors, and for the other half we weren't. This was annoying, and a lot of people missed appointments by forgetting that their neighbors had switched.

  14. Iblis:

    DST is a bad idea that just won't go away. Every time its reason for being is overtaken by history, a new fig leaf of an excuse is pulled out of someone's bureaucratic a$$.

    Change your own clock if you want to. But please god leave the rest of us alone!

  15. Greg:

    I disagree with the findings of the study. They simply don't pass the smell test. For example, most people either have a thermostat that is only changed manually, or one that adjusts the temperature according to a clock. It should take about the same amount of energy to cool a house to a certain temperature four hours after high sun or five hours.

    I know my home doesn't vary that much in temperature in the course of a day, let alone a one hour period. Does your home? In fact, my home stays warm weeks after the outside temperature begins to cool in fall.