Daylight Savings Time – Indiana May Have Had It Right After All

Daylight Saving Time (DST) started this past Sunday, earlier than ever before. DST has a long and controversial history here in Indiana. Since it’s institution during World War One to the oil embargo of the 1970s to today’s widespread environmental concerns, DST has always been touted as a way to save energy and promote energy conservation.

As most Hoosiers know, central Indiana, including Indianapolis / Marion County, Hamilton County, and all but 15 of Indiana’s 92 counties, did not start following DST until 2006. People around the country couldn’t understand why we were so reluctant when all the “experts” kept saying how beneficial Daylight Savings Time was. Well, as it turns out, we may have been right all along.

As it turns out, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, there is surprisingly little evidence that DST actually saves energy. The study took took a close at Indiana, in comparison to those states did use DST, to provide the first empirical estimates of its effects on electricity consumption in the United States since the mid-1970s.

Focusing on residential electricity demand, this first-ever study used micro-data on households to estimate the overall effect of Daylight Savings Time, which consisted of more than 7 million observations on monthly billing data for the vast majority of households in southern Indiana for three years.

Surprisingly, the study’s main finding was that, contrary to the policy’s intent and commonly held opinions, DST actually increased the demand for residential electricity – not the opposite, as expected.

  • Estimates of the overall increase were approximately 1 percent, but that figure fluctuated throughout the DST period.
  • DST caused the greatest increase in electricity consumption in the fall, when estimates range between 2 and 4 percent.

The findings point out the trade-off between reducing demand for lighting and increasing demand for heating and cooling.

  • The study estimated a utility bill cost increase to Indiana households of $9 million per year.
  • Additionally, the study estimated social costs of increased pollution emissions that range from $1.7 to $5.5 million per year.
  • Finally, the report argued that the effect was likely to be even stronger in other regions of the United States.

Now don’t get us wrong, we like the additional hours of sunlight during the Spring and Summer as much as the next guy, but please, let’s leave it at that. In all probability, even without this study, and others that have concurred with it, proponents of abolishing DST wouldn’t be swayed by the environmental argument anyway.

And remember, if we’ve switched to Daylight Savings Time, that means it’s time to get your air conditioning system tuned-up and ready for the season. We haven’t hit our busiest time yet, so there are still plenty of slots available to have a Thiele service tech perform the maintenance needed to keep your AC system up and running all summer long. Call us today to schedule your appointment, (317) 639-1111. You’ll be glad you did. (Hint – check out our web site, www.CallThiele.com, for money-saving discount coupons on your Spring AC Tune-Up, as well as other needed services, before it’s gone for the season.)