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Daylight saving time: the new energy hog

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There are many things that are universally accepted that are not necessarily true. Tomato ketchup is the natural compliment to chips (the pickled egg is the daddy in this category), for example, or black suits everyone (if that were true, Goths would be style leaders). Now the University of California is about to dispatch another such truism to an early grave: daylight saving is not A Good Thing for the environment, according to the academics.

By analysing two Australian states, one which pursued daylight saving and one which did not, and found that daylight saving state actually used more energy.

Here’s the skinny from the horses mouths:

“Our results show that the extension failed to conserve electricity,” wrote the student researchers. In fact, they said, it appears that energy suppliers experienced higher peak loads in the mornings than before, and that morning wholesale electricity prices rose sharply in response.

“The decrease in evening electricity demand and the increase in morning demand almost perfectly balanced each other out,” said Hendrik Wolff UC Berkeley’s Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, a native of Germany, in an interview, noting a slight but statistically negligible increase in overall usage.[…]

Wolff recommended that DST – first instituted in the United States to save energy at the end of World War I – be removed as a component of national energy policy and assigned to other legislative and governmental forces that might consider it more in terms of its impact on traffic accidents, crime and culture. “For the 21st century, if we want to keep Daylight Saving Time,” he said, “we should find better, more efficient arguments for it rather than just energy conservation.”

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