This weekend we spring forward, or set our clocks forward one hour. I always thought that the purpose of Daylight Savings Time (DST) was to conserve energy. But I’ve never been sure, so I did a little research.
DST was invented in 1905 by an English builder and outdoorsmen named William Willett. Reportedly an avid golfer, he disliked cutting short his round of golf when it became too dark to play. His solution was to advance the clock during the summer months.
So much for energy conservation. The real reason for DST is so men can play golf longer in the evening. Not that I’m complaining. Winter is hard enough without darkness closing in on us at 5:00 pm. Although it is hard explaining to the kids that, yes, it is bedtime even though the sun hasn’t fully set. That first day that it stays light past 6:00 pm reminds me that there is an end to the winter and Spring will be coming soon. It puts a little spring in my step.
But back to DST and energy conservation. In 2005, President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act that extended DST by four weeks. The name of the act implies that Bush also believes the intent of DST is to conserve energy. Come on, Bush, we all know you just want to play golf. And this study proves it.
But did we really need a study to inform us that the clock change increases energy use rather than conserves it? School’s out, it’s warm outside, pools are open, the sun doesn’t set until after 8:00 pm. If you could attach a joule meter to my boys in the summer, it would explode from overuse. The energy expelled by my boys in the summer is ten times that expelled by my boys in the winter. O.K. I know that’s not the same type of energy discussed in the study. But, metaphorically, it’s a good comparison.
Normally, it takes me awhile to recover from the out-of-whackness the time change throws my system into. But, since I will be in Florida with my husband for a four-day vacation this weekend, I will have plenty of time to recover from the lost sleep. I will also be doing my part to make sure that the clock change does what it’s supposed to do by conserving energy. Lazing around on the beach for hours ought to do the trick.