The historic reason for observing daylight-saving time—which ends at 2 a.m. on Sunday when clocks revert to standard time—is to conserve energy, by pushing sunlight forward into the evening, reducing the need for electric lights.
…. The study, which was published in Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, found that electricity use decreased in the evening but increased in the morning, resulting in no overall reductions in consumption. [Duh]
“We can reject the hypothesis that there are electricity savings,” Mr. Wolff said. The report notes the findings could carry over to the U.S., particularly in California, whose climate resembles Victoria’s.
Similar circumstances arose when Indiana adopted daylight-saving time statewide for the first time in 2006. Previously, only 15 of the state’s 92 counties had observed the practice.
The unusual circumstance allowed Matthew Kotchen, an economics professor at Yale, to examine electricity use before and after the policy changed, and compare a treatment group—counties changing time for the first time—with a control group—those that had observed daylight-saving time previously.
“The change in Indiana wasn’t just a change in the start of daylight-saving time,” Mr. Kotchen said. “It was a place that never had it before.”
The study, which was published in the Review of Economics and Statistics, examined residential data only, but the researchers didn’t believe commercial use would alter their findings.
“Big-box stores don’t turn on or off lights based on whether it’s light outside or dark,” Mr. Kotchen said. “In a commercial building, the lights are on when people are working no matter what.”
Rather than conserving electricity, the study found that daylight-saving time increased demand for electricity. Conditions may vary in other parts of the country, but the study concluded that Indiana is representative of much of the country.
That doesn’t mean daylight-saving time has never worked since its introduction during World War I. But, said Mr. Kotchen, “the world has changed. Lighting is a small amount of energy and electricity use in households. The big things are heating and cooling, particularly as air conditioning has become more prevalent. We’re fooling ourselves to continue calling it an energy policy given the studies that show it doesn’t save energy.”
Another of the Progressive Movement’s failures.