History of Daylight Saving Time and Saving Energy

October 30, 2015

Although a relatively new convention, Daylight Saving Time* was first proposed by Benjamin Franklin in 1784 as a way to save on candles. Daylight Saving Time didn’t become a reality until 1907 when English writer, William Willet, wrote a pamphlet called “The Waste of Daylight”, and the idea began to spread.

How DST was created: The Uniform Time Act

Daylight Saving Time (DST), as we know it, piggybacked off of the time zone demarcation our railroad system had been using to standardize their track schedules since the late 1800s. After a few trial runs during WWI and WWII, most Americans were using some form of Daylight Saving, but there was no regulation or policy mandating the adoption of DST. Congress created the Uniform Time Act of 1966 to standardize how states should “change our daylight”—if a state chose to do so. Arizona and Hawaii, for example, do not observe Daylight Saving Time.

Does Daylight Saving save energy?

The original objective of Daylight Saving Time was to save energy. Daylight Saving Time ensures that our waking hours are spent in the most amount of daylight possible, minimizing the need for artificial light. However, recent research suggests that this is not often what actually happens when we switch our clocks.

Why saving isn’t saving

Scientists compared energy usage over the course of three years in Indiana counties that switched from year-round Standard Time to DST. They found that those who observed Daylight Saving Time spent $8.6 million more each year on energy, the problem with always working in daylight is that most of us retreat to our air conditioning for relief.

Changes in when we use electricity, and oddities in certain states’ time zones both factor into the research of University of California, Santa Barbara’s scientific findings. It’s been theorized that the energy jump is due to the increased use of home air conditioning over the past 40 years.

It’s time to make the difference

Even though the way we use energy has changed, there are some things you can do today to save energy.

Swap out your incandescent light bulbs for CFL or LED alternatives.

Switching out your incandescent light bulbs for CFL or LED alternatives can go a long way to reducing the amount of energy you consume.

Opt for motion-sensitive light switches.

Often times, we will turn on a light for a moment’s use somewhere in the house only to walk away for the rest of the night. Motion sensors can turn out a light within minutes of you leaving the room, which can translate to big electricity savings throughout the year, regardless of DST and Standard Time.

Turn off those screens at least 1 hour before going to sleep.

Lower light levels can change your body chemistry to start making you sleepy before your head hits the pillow. Turning off the screens (TVs, tablets, phones…) at least 1 hour before you head for bed not only decreases your energy consumption, but also gives your eyes time to adjust to the diminished ambient light.

*Grammar note: It is pronounced ‘Daylight Saving Time’ –  there is no ‘s’ at the end of saving!

For more information on how to save on your energy costs, contact IGS Energy today. From great rates and smart thermostats, to demand response and home services, IGS Energy is your trusted advisor for all your home energy needs.