Daylight Savings And Saving Energy

Sunday, March 9 at 2:00 a.m. was the official time to spring forward for daylight savings time (DST). While not all countries or U.S. states observe DST, most North American and European residents set their clocks ahead one hour on Saturday night before going to bed, including their wall clocks, appliance clocks, alarm clocks, auto clocks, sprinkler and lighting timers, some ac thermostats, and many wristwatches.

 

The History of Daylight Savings Time

The idea of daylight savings time originated in the 1700s with Ben Franklin. He believed rising with the sun would enable people to be productive during the daylight hours and thus save resources. The idea didn’t become popular in the U.S. until World War I and later World War II, when saving fuel oil was critical to the war effort. During the Arab oil embargo of 1973, the U.S. again pushed daylight savings time. During that period, electricity consumption decreased by 1% but it may have been more to higher prices than anything else. In 2005, the federal government extended daylight savings time by a month under the Energy Policy Act. But does daylight savings time really decrease energy use? Surprisingly, the answer may be “no.”

 

Does DST Really Decrease Energy Use?

Daylight savings time was invented before the use of air conditioning became widespread. A Kansas study found thats daylight savings time can actually increase consumer energy use because people arrive home when it is hot and turn on their ACs. In so far as many consumers use energy-hogging AC units, this means energy consumption is higher than if the same people had stayed at the office. However, the opposite the opposite is also true. A California study found that electricity decreased because people remained outdoors longer. The bottom line seems to be that, while energy consumption nationwide decreases by 0.03%, actual savings depend on where you live. The South tends to use more, the North is a slight winner. Lighting has almost nothing to do with it; savings relate to cooling costs.

 

DST And Biorhythms And What To Do About It

While the energy savings associated with daylight savings times are negligible, the health costs are not. Studies have shown daylight savings time can disruption the body’s circadian rhythm, which is the basic biological clock that regulates hormone production, among other things. Many people never adjust their circadian rhythm after clocks are set back, resulting in chronic over tiredness and lack of concentration. More specifically, the presence of daylight interferes the production of melatonin by the pineal gland. Low melatonin production is associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cancer as well as insomnia. And melatonin is just one of more than a dozen hormones disrupted by daylight savings time.

While melatonin supplementation is useful, it can only accomplish so much. But you can fight light with light. Researchers have found that the blue light spectrum of daylight is responsible for an out-of-whack circadian clock. So, turn off blue light – televisions, computers and other electronic devices – at least one hour before bedtime if you want a good night’s sleep. And add red spectrum light to your life during the early evening. Incandescent light bulbs emit red light, but are no longer as readily available. However, energy saving red-light bulbs are commercially available, and we sell them of course. Using the “warm color” light bulbs will not only save energy, they can help save your health.

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