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Daylight saving time a good deal or not?

March 29, 2010

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This weekend most of Europe turned it’s clocks an hour ahead, following the US that switched to daylight saving time two weeks ago and will fall back the first Sunday of November.

Since 2007 – as an outcome of the Bush administration’s 2005 energy policy act – daylight saving time lasts one month longer in the US than in Europe. The explanation behind the extension was the supposed reduction of energy use – because it stays light longer, fewer lights will be turned on. However, studies have shown that intensified air conditioner use as well as more people going out at night using their cars, evens out the energy use decrease and may even slightly increase it.

It seems like either Bush did not do his math or there were other stakes at hand. Proponents of the daylight saving time extension include retailers, golf course operators, outdoor cooking vendors, and theme parks. These industries, among others, apparently lobbied hard for the extended dates because when people stay out later it means hundreds of millions of dollars additional revenue from sales of golf clubs, grills, admission fees and more.

In all fairness, perhaps the energy bill that proposed the extension of daylight saving time should have been called ‘the grill, golf and shop-till-you-drop’ act. I think most people would have understood because who doesn’t enjoy those long evenings. Except maybe livestock farmers, whose cattle cannot adjust to the time switch. Or parents of young children that are loosing an extra hour of precious sleep and may need a week or more to get back on schedule…

I do have one small suggestion for the US – Why not rename daylight saving time ‘summer time’, as we call it in Holland. Doesn’t that at least make it sound like a good deal?

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