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Daylight Savings Time Increases Energy Use In Indiana 388

Posted by timothy
from the all-change-has-friction dept.
enbody writes "The Freakonomics Blog at NYTimes.com reports on a study of Indiana energy use for daylight savings time showing an increase in energy use of 1%. 'The dataset consists of more than 7 million observations on monthly billing data for the vast majority of households in southern Indiana for three years. Our main finding is that — contrary to the policy's intent — D.S.T. increases residential electricity demand.'" Maybe that's just from millions of coffee makers being pressed into extra duty.
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Daylight Savings Time Increases Energy Use In Indiana

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  • by Lord Byron II (671689) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @02:01PM (#25696035)
    I can say, living in Eastern Illinois (Chicago), that when Daylight savings rolls around, we do engage our coffee maker to make the transition a little easier. If enough households do this, I wouldn't be surprised if the "coffeemaker" effect is significant enough to cause serious change in energy usage. For example, our coffee maker draws 1200 watts(!) while brewing.
  • not a blip (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @02:02PM (#25696039)
    I believe that other parts of the world have observed the same result too.

    Of course it is very difficult to make an apples to apples comparison since energy demands are changing year to year anyway. Observed changes cannot be only attributed to the DST changes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 09, 2008 @02:06PM (#25696063)
    In order to really determine the effect though, they need to look at all power usage not just households. What about municipalities (street lights, water pumps, etc.), businesses, office space, Government offices, etc.). If you don't calculate it all - and you come out with a 1% difference - you may just have found nothing of any relevance since the intent is to save power overall.
  • by rm999 (775449) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @02:08PM (#25696083)

    When we fall back from DST to standard time, I notice a lot of people seem more visibly depressed, or "blah." I think there is something about the day ending at 4:30 pm that feels unnatural. Not only are the days getting shorter in the Fall, but then people have to deal with the sun setting an hour earlier.

    This indicates to me that people actually enjoy DST. If anything, I would support a year-round DST.

  • by greggman (102198) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @02:10PM (#25696097) Homepage

    I don't care if it uses more energy, I like it when it gets dark later. I like getting out of work while it's still light outside.

  • by rbarreira (836272) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @02:11PM (#25696107) Homepage

    1200 watts is not surprising to me. A coffee maker has to boil water after all.

  • by maeka (518272) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @02:13PM (#25696123) Journal

    In order to really determine the effect though, they need to look at all power usage not just households. What about municipalities (street lights, water pumps, etc.), businesses, office space, Government offices, etc.)

    I've never lived in a city which turned off their streetlights for part of the night, so I'm not sure what consumption change would be possible there.
    Water pumps (I assume you mean the ones which lift water to the water towers) operate as a function of water demand, and I'm not sure how water consumption could be changed by DST.
    Also unfortunately, most offices and businesses use lighting in a manner which is independent of ambient light, so I'm not sure why we would expect a difference there.
    In fact, I would expect household consumption to be the most elastic and the exact market one would expect to see the most savings in (if there were savings to be found.) It tends to be individuals, not businesses, who turn on and off lights in response to window-provided light.

  • by Ironsides (739422) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @02:13PM (#25696125) Homepage Journal
    However, the coffee maker is not on for a very long time. In order for the coffee maker to use $3.29 of electricity at 10Â/kwh (fairly high) it would have to use 32.9kwh, or be on for a cumulative 27 hours. How long does it take to brew coffee?
  • by mechsoph (716782) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @02:15PM (#25696145)

    The article doesn't describe how the produced the estimate of 1%. If they just looked at the year-over-year change, the number could be meaningless as that might be within the normal variation/trend of energy consumption.

    The method economists use in this situation is to look at the group that your changing (Indiana) and compare the change in energy consumption to a nearby control group (Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky). You can then look at the RELATIVE changes to get a valid answer.

    ***

    Ok, I just followed the link to the actual paper, and it looks like they used several Indiana counties that were on DST prior to the policy change as their control. So, yeah, their results look pretty valid. In conclusion: Down with DST!

  • by Ironsides (739422) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @02:16PM (#25696155) Homepage Journal
    You might want to read this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasonal_affective_disorder [wikipedia.org]

    It's been known about for years, particularly near the Arctic Circle.
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @02:20PM (#25696189) Journal

    Why didn't they test this in a few states before doing it nation-wide? They fuck with our clocks, operating systems, and minds with no rational plan.

  • by Timothy Brownawell (627747) <tbrownaw@prjek.net> on Sunday November 09, 2008 @02:21PM (#25696193) Homepage Journal

    If you're going to (permanently) break the 12pm = sun overhead, 12am = midnight relation, why not just ignore timezones and use UTC instead? The problem is how the time you start and stop work relates to the time that the sun rises and sets... what name you give those times doesn't matter.

  • by fermion (181285) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @02:24PM (#25696217) Homepage Journal
    This a situation where a peer reviewed methodology would be of much more interest than a finding. Even if the finding is accurate, I cannot see how it is valid. First, a one percent increase may or may not be significant.

    Second, what is the one percent based on? Previous months use? Historical and adjusted values for same month use?

    Third, do the increases adjust for changes in fall activities. For instance, were the kids all going to school at the same time? Does the start of school effect the figures?Do the number of holidays effect the figures?

    All I really know at this point is that some people stuck some number in spreadsheet and saw a spike. Next thing you will telling me is that the only reason the days start getting longer is that, fortunately, some traditionalist still hold a ceremony on the 21st to make it do so, rather than the much too late 25th.

    I really don't know if DST helps, or if this paper is valid. However, it appears that the only variable this paper controls for is weather, and rather For instance, their data shows an increase over the month of September, exactly when parents are getting up earlier to get the kids ready for school, while July through september, months when parents do not get get kids ready for school, is not increased, even though children may be home during the day using electricity. I do see how any question is answered. Some nice data analysis, so nice inferences, but who knows if anything else.

  • by Ecuador (740021) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @02:32PM (#25696275) Homepage

    The whole idea of having to develop an entire infrastructure and spend so much effort (e.g. writing software, following changes in policies, synchronizing between different DST zones, even manually correcting clocks) just to supposedly save a little energy thanks to "using more sunlight" is beyond idiotic. I won't even touch the fact that to me it is kind of obvious that the DST could never work as intended. But even if we were certain it would work, the CHANGE twice a year add such an overhead that would wipe out any potential gain.

  • by IcyHando'Death (239387) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @02:33PM (#25696289)

    Anybody else out there think it's a little odd to be using the term "Standard Time" for a period that covers only 4 months of the year now?

  • DST Is Insane (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anorlunda (311253) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @02:43PM (#25696373) Homepage

    How long must we continue this DST insanity? It doesn't accomplish anything beneficial. Nothing, nada, zip. If you like getting out of work in the light, then lobby to switch your state to a different time zone year round, but please please not DST.

    On the other hand DST costs us plenty in confusion and lost work hours, and in maintaining software that deals with 24x7 matters. All such software must deal with one 23 hour day an one 25 hour day each year. Especially when said software integrates with external software and people it is next to impossible to assure error free transition to or from DST. Someone in the chain always drops the ball. One of these days, we're going to have an accidental missile launch or a nuclear meltdown or some really bad accident directly linked to DST.

    One of the real lessons we should have learned from Y2K was that dealing with our insanely complex conventions for time and date are vastly expensive and the cause of chronic errors. New errors are still being created every day because the author deals incorrectly with time. DST just heaps on even more crap and returns no benefit.

  • by WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) <sexwithanimals@gmail.com> on Sunday November 09, 2008 @02:54PM (#25696495) Homepage
    "I've never lived in a city which turned off their streetlights for part of the night, so I'm not sure what consumption change would be possible there."

    Well, where I live all the street lights are automated to turn on when it gets dark out. If it's darker for longer in the winter, they'd run more. They don't care what time it is, if it's dark they're on.
  • Re:DST Is Insane (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @02:56PM (#25696505) Homepage

    How long must we continue this DST insanity?

    I totally agree. Stop dicking with the time and just deal with it. There was some discussion about having more daylight when kids are waiting for the school bus but that argument is not really valid anymore. School bus loading is a lot safer now, in any lighting conditions. Most school parking lots are well lighted. There are enough laws and enforcement going on now that the message is sinking in.

    Farmers don't need the extra daylight, either. When it's harvest time they're running until midnight or later. With GPS and the lighting systems on tractors they can work anytime.

    It's a brave new world and that world doesn't need anyone moving the clock back and forth.

  • "But haven't most households switched to CFLs and other energy-efficient lighting?"

    No. Very few houses actually contain people who care. I don't mean to sound like a troll, but that's the facts.
  • by Air-conditioned cowh (552882) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @03:08PM (#25696621)
    How about just getting up earlier all the year round. Move core work time to 8-4PM. That way it is nicely centred around mid-day. And mid-day can then mean exactly what it says on the tin (except for those weird time zones that jut out and extend in odd directions).
  • Oh no, not 1% (Score:4, Insightful)

    by alexhmit01 (104757) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @03:08PM (#25696623)

    Well, it is nice that in the afternoon I can take my kids to the park, work in the garden, or commute with some day light... All in all, I can actually live my life a lot more because there is daylight when the day is over, and I can enjoy 7 days a week, not 2... But, if we need to use 1% more energy, well let's panic. The energy savings of DST has obviously been silly since light became a small portion of energy usage, but if it's only 1% more, I'd say that's pretty cheap.

    I think that I can 50% - more recreational time each week during DST, so if I can do that for 1% more energy, terrific. OTOH, I spent less time watching TV on on the computer because there is more useful daylight, another bonus. Daylight before I get up in the morning doesn't do me any good, but having daylight for my commute in and for my evenings with my family are precious.

    I'm always saddened when DST comes to an end. Why the whiners on Slashdot complain about DST, I'll never understand. The transition week is annoying, and my two year old has been struggling with his rhythm being off, but as a trade off for all those summer afternoons in the park with him, it's a bargain.

  • by Golddess (1361003) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @03:14PM (#25696675)
    DST makes it get dark later, not earlier.

    Lets use Eastern Time an an example. Say it is 5:00pm in Eastern Standard Time. That's GMT-5. Eastern Daylight Time is GMT-4, or 6:00pm.

    That being said, I think we need to simply do away with DST (though that does not mean having Standard time year-round, but having a consistent time and none of this springing forwards or falling backs would be ideal).
  • by Yetihehe (971185) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @03:22PM (#25696749)
    I, for one, shit every time I want. It helps to get rid of shitty ideas.
  • by peragrin (659227) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @04:44PM (#25697413)

    actually he is referring to the fact that most of upstate NY and eastern canada recieved snow three weeks earlier than normal, yet two day ago it was 70 and sunny.

  • by guruevi (827432) <evi AT smokingcube DOT be> on Sunday November 09, 2008 @04:56PM (#25697513) Homepage

    you know, back when farmers where around, then it made sense to change it. Now it just messes up everything. First of all, all of a sudden it gets light an hour early, I wake up with the sun so at what used to be 8, it's now 7 so I have to do something for that extra hour (use electricity to post on /. for example) then I come home at night and where I used to make dinner in the sunlight before plopping down in the couch or doing something, now I need electricity to light up my kitchen for the rest of winter until the sun (and my body) has caught up with the time. Next to that because my body clock is all screwed up for the rest of the month, I have one hour less sleep and one hour more activity whether it be computer, tv or something else, I live at night and I have to use electricity to light my house.

    And then when summer comes around, the same thing goes the backward way. All of a sudden it's dark in the morning and I need lights in my home and office for the whole morning (because once it gets light enough, I don't notice them being on).

    And there is no excuse for farmers anymore, one of my family members is an 'agricultural engineer'. These days farms are industrialized and literally work 24/7 to work their huge lands with as little (very expensive) machinery as possible (having 3-shifts of work on 1 machine). And the "biological" farmers (the smaller ones that sell their food at premium price to health stores) work at night now too since it's suppositively healthier for their crops and the environment to be cultivated (plowed etc.) at night. Even the 'classic' farmers have huge spotlights on their machines, I don't know any farmer that still has his horses pull a plow.

  • by Firethorn (177587) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @05:07PM (#25697599) Homepage Journal

    The problem with this is if you pull out the math, turning off fluorescent lights to the point of being anal might save you $10/year, at which point they go 'it's not worth it'.

    Stuff like closing doors, turning the heat/ac off in rooms you don't regularly use, etc... All can have larger effects.

    Heck, I'm probably going to use a bit more electricity this year - because I'll be keeping the house a few degrees colder, saving gas, while using electricity to make up the difference in the room I'm actually in.

    If I was looking into building a new house(I am, but not quite there yet), I'd probably consider installing an intelligent ducting system - people sensor in the rooms - if it activates it turns the heat/ac on for that room, or at least opens up the ducts. For maintenance reasons(home systems lose efficiency if too much of the house is shut off), keep some common areas like the kitchen, bathroom, and living room always controlled. Drop the temperature if the people sensors decide that everybody is away from home.

    The small steps can sometimes get you -I knew a woman once who replaced all her lights with CFLs to save energy - then started using an electric heater.

    1 heater = 12 100 watt bulbs.

  • by zippthorne (748122) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @05:47PM (#25697913) Journal

    Ok, but why do you need a government enforced, "we're going to lie about the time" period?

    Why not just encourage businesses to start earlier? (which has an added benefit: some businesses won't, and others will peg either the start or end time to the variable cycle, which spreads out the traffic and reduces congestion during rush hour. Five minutes in an car is like running *all* the lights in a typical household for half an hour. Longer if they're CFLs.)

    Government mandated delusion is unnecessary. It's like that thing where you ask a question about something you think you need to do something you need to do, when you should've asked about the thing you're actually trying to accomplish because your workaround might be unnecessarily complicated.

  • by zippthorne (748122) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @05:51PM (#25697959) Journal

    Ah yes, the old "Take the wrong lesson from the parable of the broken window" approach to economics. Fantastic.

  • by doktorjayd (469473) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @06:53PM (#25698379) Homepage Journal

    does this pattern change between daylight savings time and standard time?

    putting it on an hour earlier is still putting it on..

    back to TFA, wasnt there something similar out of illinois about a year ago? that study looked at the _cost_ whereas this 'study' at least appears to look at energy consumption.

    i actually read the linked article in TFA and it seemed pretty heavy on assumption. statisitcally, even with the sample size they had, 1% looked like it could easily fall within the margin of error.

    so the title should actually be ' daylight savings time has negligible effect on energy consumption in indiana- just provides more daylight time for people to enjoy the outdoors'.

  • by Matt Perry (793115) <perry,matt54&yahoo,com> on Sunday November 09, 2008 @07:15PM (#25698541)

    Parents don't want their kids walking to school in the dark, and year-round DST would have that effect.

    Then adjust the start time for school rather than have everyone else adjust clock time to accommodate a few children.

  • Re:Same over here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mabhatter654 (561290) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @07:57PM (#25698873)

    I think that was the original point. First American business culture is heavily centered around "on time" by working to a clock, far more than the rest of the world. Instead of vary working hours to go home earlier in the summer and work later in winter to adapt themselves to the environment, they decided to have EVERYBODY move their clocks instead. This also worked when factories and offices needed to be cooled as it let them shut down a little sooner. It also let businessmen get an extra round of golf in due to the extra daylight. Now that everybody has air conditioning at home.. and TVs, computers, etc. The energy balance is probably way off.

  • by caluml (551744) <slashdot@spCOWam ... minus herbivore> on Sunday November 09, 2008 @08:27PM (#25699091) Homepage

    How about just getting up earlier all the year round. Move core work time to 8-4PM.

    How about not? I'd rather work later, say 11am-8pm, thankyou very much.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 09, 2008 @09:13PM (#25699319)

    I live in Indiana in a county that had no daylight savings. I would get up and the sun would be just rising. I would shower and drive to work in the morning sun.

    Sorry but I'm calling BS. At Indiana's latitude, the time of sunrise varies by about 2h30m over the year without DST.

  • Re:For us farmers (Score:2, Insightful)

    by the plant doctor (842044) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @09:31PM (#25699413)
    Are you serious? Modded informative? Funny, yes, there should be a sarcasm point, but informative? My stars, I weep for the scientists here.
  • Re:DST Is Insane (Score:3, Insightful)

    by toddestan (632714) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @09:45PM (#25699507)

    Farmers don't need the extra daylight, either. When it's harvest time they're running until midnight or later. With GPS and the lighting systems on tractors they can work anytime.

    Farmers have never reallfy cared about DST anyway. Generally, the start of their day is when the sun rises, regardless of what the clock says.

  • by Matt Perry (793115) <perry,matt54&yahoo,com> on Sunday November 09, 2008 @10:11PM (#25699663)

    If you have children then that is your problem. It's up to you to make sure your schedule with work and your children works well for you. The rest of the populace shouldn't have to carry your burden.

  • by Kent Recal (714863) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @10:14PM (#25699687)

    Do people still use those "hot plate" coffee machines in an office? Over here, in germany, pretty much every office has one of these espresso makers that meal the beans and brew exactly one cup (or up to four cups, depending on size) on the push of a button. They're probably even less energy effective than a "hot plate machine" because they have to power up for every cup - but at least their coffee is half-decent and drinkable whereas the "hot plate coffee" tastes like shit when it has been sitting there for an hour.

  • by syousef (465911) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @11:03PM (#25699935) Journal

    If you're going to (permanently) break the 12pm = sun overhead, 12am = midnight relation, why not just ignore timezones and use UTC instead?

    Because you'd have to look up business hours every time you travelled more than a few hours east or west. Local time zones do make sense. Daylight savings and changing the time at an agreed upon date twice a year doesn't.

  • Re:Same over here (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Techman83 (949264) on Sunday November 09, 2008 @11:43PM (#25700135)
    I'm a WA Resident as well, and I love DST! Being an office worker and young, you do get to enjoy the extra evening light. But then again I'm in Perth and do get the ocean breeze most afternoons. But it's hot inland regardless of the time you get home. Friends of mine work in the mining industry and to make sure there rooms aren't unbearably hot to sleep in they have to run the air con all the time. The invariable DST time warp probably does not affect them as much though.
  • Re:not a blip (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:24AM (#25700323)
    Which is why Indiana was good for this study. If Arizona ever falls to the dark idiocy of bi-annual time change, it will be able to provide more data.
  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Monday November 10, 2008 @12:37AM (#25700387)

    Maybe you could read the damn paper.

    You know the one that answers those questions.

  • Re:Same over here (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kopiok (898028) on Monday November 10, 2008 @01:54AM (#25700775)
    It's extra light in the afternoon, not morning. But you are right, days get shorter, the sun doesn't just move up an hour in it's schedule. When it was introduced way back when in a very farm-rich America, it made sense. It was mainly to allow farmers in America to work during the daylight hours while keeping on the train schedule, if I recall from my American History class. It's an outdated system with the modernization of the world.
  • by jonnyt886 (1252670) on Monday November 10, 2008 @09:57AM (#25703873)

    A grammar nazi is often a very confused person who believes that is 'one true grammar.'

    A grammar nazi is often a very confused person who believes that there is 'one true grammar.'

    There, fixed that for you.

  • by ebuck (585470) on Monday November 10, 2008 @11:49AM (#25706013)

    I don't know where the "farmers like DST" meme can from, but it should go back there very quickly.

    Farmers don't benefit from DST, because farmers are like construction workers; they work outside. That means that they maximize their use of daylight, not that the daylight gets shifted around to suit their needs.

    When the sun rises, it rises the next day which is about 24 hours from the last time plus or minus some number of seconds depending on latitude. Setting your clocks to whatever time you wish won't alter this behaviour, and if you all agree that today you'll ignore an hour or some other day you'll duplicate an hour, then that's fine. However, it has nothing to do with the actual observations of the world you live in, which is the farmer's realm.

    Farmers typically hate DST because it means they have to alter their schedule because the banks honour DST while the farmers honour the setting and rising of the sun.

    Kill the farmer DST meme, it's misinformation at its finest.

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