It’s an antiquated practice that has many people driving home from work (at around 5 o’clock) in relative darkness, likely leading to more traffic accidents and less quality time outside as well.
Daylight-saving time (not “daylight-savings” time) was created during World War I to decrease energy use. The practice was implemented year-round in 1942, during WWII. Not waking up in the dark, the thinking went, would decrease fuel use for lighting and heating. That would help conserve energy supplies to help the war effort.
According to advocacy groups like Standardtime.com, which are trying to abolish daylight-saving time, claims about saving energy are unproven. “If we are saving energy, let’s go year-round with daylight-saving time,” the group says. “If we are not saving energy, let’s drop daylight-saving time!”
In his book Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight-Saving Time, author Michael Downing says there isn’t much evidence that daylight-saving actually decreases energy use.
In fact, sometimes DST seems to increase energy use.
For example, in Indiana – where daylight-saving time was implemented statewide in 2006 – researchers saw that people used less electricity for light, but those gains were canceled out by people who used more air conditioning during the early evenings.
(That’s because 6pm felt more like 5pm, when the sun still shines brightly in the summer and homes haven’t had the chance to cool off.)
DST also increases gasoline consumption, something Downing says the petroleum industry has known since the 1930s. This is probably because evening activities – and the vehicle use they require – increase with that extra daylight.
Changing the clocks also causes air travel synchronisation headaches, which sometimes leads to travel delays and lost revenue, airlines have reportedly said.
There are also health issues associated with changing the clocks. Similar to the way jet-lag makes you feel all out of whack, daylight-saving time is like scooting one time zone over.
This can disrupt our sleep, metabolism, mood, stress levels, and other bodily rhythms. One study suggests recovery can take three weeks.
The absence of major energy-saving benefits from DST – along with its death toll, health impacts, and economic ramifications – are reason enough to get rid of the ritual.