2011-03-12

Why I hate Daylight Saving Time

In a matter of hours clocks across the United States of America will be "wrong" by an hour due to the onset of Daylight "Saving" Time1.

The advantages and disadvantages of Daylight Saving Time have been debated at length for nearly one hundred years. We've all heard the legend of the great inventor and founding father Benjamin Franklin decreeing DST to benefit agriculture across America. (Really, I think he just didn't like the night life in Paris and thought he'd go about suggesting a shift in behavior by having them "use more daylight". ["Benjamin Franklin: America's Inventor" - HistoryNet])

Daylight Saving Time didn't come into recognizable use until the first World War. During which much of the world's energy was spent on lighting (with fuel which could be put to better use in the war). A fact which really can't be used with current arguments for DST. Lighting is a small fraction of our modern day energy usage; instead, heating and cooling systems make up the biggest portion. Resulting in the following scenario today:
With DST, people return with an extra hour of sunlight. An hour during which homes would have cooled further. Once individuals enter a warmer house, they crank some cold air out of the cooling systems.
So, much for energy savings. You see, they didn't have electricity sucking HVAC systems back when they started this DST thing. Don't worry, though, some would have you push your evening plans out an additional hour if you were so concerned about coming back to a warmer house. (The same hour DST took away.)

Ignoring the involvement of energy companies, there are many industries which claim a benefit from DST. Tourism, sports, and retail; to name a few. Customers of these industries consume more of their products and services during the daylight; if they can catch a few more customers after the workday is through then that's money in the bank. That's not a bad thing for those industries to want, so I don't fault the efforts to take advantage of the time change. It does mask the larger issue, which started DST in the first place.

The idea of Daylight Saving Time is to make the most of the hours of daylight available during the Summer. That's fantastic! Unfortunately, people use DST as a crutch to hobble a few days of good feelings out of "more" daylight. You've heard this before, but I'll say it again: If you want more daylight, then use it when it's there. Consistently. I'm definitely not going to do what Ben Franklin did and tell you how to spend your day though; in fact, I'd rather point out a consequence encountered when using DST.

Tomorrow morning, you are going to feel like crap. You're going to wake up, look at your clock and think, "What?! It's ??:??. How is it so late?!" That feeling of panic is not only because of DST (just as little as that feeling of rest in the Spring); it's because you got an hour less of sleep. If you don't like that feeling, then you should consistently try to get an extra hour of sleep. DST "takes" away an hour of night for most people; moving that darkness from the evening to the next morning. Personally, I think it's your choice to define your sleeping habits as you want. Additionally, I don't think there should be any attempt to dictate whether you choose to play during the day or night. In 1779, however, Ol' Ben thought he knew best and suggested Paris "early to bed and early to rise", but we both know that sometimes more excitement can be found after dark or in sleep.


1 Technically, my clocks are all either radio clocks [wikipedia] or using NTP [wikipedia] and, therefore, set the time automatically according to either the radio signal being broadcast by WWVB [wikipedia] here in Fort Collins, Colorado or the NTP server wwv.nist.gov hosted by the same.
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