Monday, March 10, 2008

Letter to the editor: Eastern DST uses more energy

Date: Sun, 9 Mar 2008 18:08:11 -0400
From: "Bill Starr"
To: "John Harmon"
Subject: Letter to the editor: Eastern DST uses more energy

The morning daylight arrived one hour later Sunday morning, just as we all expected with the first day of DST.

However, if it feels like you're losing about two hours of morning daylight this time of year, there's a good reason.

According to the US Naval Observatory, the sun passed overhead in Columbus on Saturday, March 8 at 12:54 pm ( So we already had 54 minutes of daylight shifted from morning to evening the day before starting DST, just from being on eastern time rather than central.

On Sunday, the solar transit was 1:54 pm, so we had almost two full hours of daylight shifted from morning to evening with DST on March 9.

When a public referendum was held in 1956 asking Hoosier voters their preference on Eastern versus Central time and whether to use daylight-saving time in the summer months, the only clear consensus that emerged was that most opposed the "double-fast time" that would result from being on Eastern Standard Time and switching to Eastern Daylight Time in the summer (

Shifting two hours of daylight from morning to evening in March would be more tolerable if it were saving us energy, per the conventional wisdom. That was the supposed justification for Congress's extending DST from 7 to 8 months starting in 2007.

However, a recent study of Hoosier energy usage by University of California-Santa Barbara researchers indicates that DST actually increases energy usage by 1 to 4 percent, and therefore costs us money. The study does not indicate whether the artificial "DST" effect of being in the geographically incorrect time zone might be adding even more cost.

The original paper dated 5 Feb 2008 can be found at "". A Wall Street Journal summary by Justin Lahart on 27 Feb 2008 communicated the findings to a broader audience (

Mr. Lahart wrote, "Having the entire state switch to daylight-saving time each year, rather than stay on standard time, costs Indiana households an additional $8.6 million [per year] in electricity bills. They conclude that the reduced cost of lighting in afternoons during daylight-saving time is more than offset by the higher air-conditioning costs on hot afternoons and increased heating costs on cool mornings... The energy-savings numbers often cited by lawmakers and others come from research conducted in the 1970s. Yet a key difference between now and the '70s... is the prevalence of air conditioning."

If you'd like to see a more equitable share of morning daylight, and potentially cut your utility bills as well, here are two actions to consider.

1) Encourage your two state legislators to sponsor and support legislation like this session's Senate Bill 34 (, which would request the DOT to move Indiana back to the central time zone.

Even if the 5 counties by Louisville and Cincinnati stayed on eastern, we'd still increase the number of Hoosiers in a single time zone from 81.6 to 95.7 percent.

2) Encourage your three U.S. Congressmen to sponsor and support legislation to cut the DST period back to 7 or 6 months, or even eliminate DST altogether.

Besides cutting energy use and costs, who knows how many person-hours the country could put to better use than changing clocks twice per year.

Bill Starr
Columbus, Indiana
Sun, 9 Mar 2008, 6:08 pm EDT

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