According to a recent UCSB study, proponents of daylight saving time are not only wasting their time, but losing money, too.
Supporting the claim that time is indeed money, the study concluded that DST caused an estimated increase of $8.6 million per year in electricity bills for Indiana households. The report, “Does Daylight Saving Time Save Energy? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Indiana,” also estimates increased social costs due to pollution emissions ranging from $1.6 to $5.3 million per year.
Conducted over a three-year period, the study monitored monthly billing data for over seven million customers of Indiana utility company Duke Energy Corp. in southern Indiana. Bren School assistant professor Matthew Kotchen and third-year Bren School doctoral candidate Laura Grant released the study last month.
Grant said it is a commonly held belief that DST conserves energy by taking advantage of sunlight for an extra hour each day, however, the study shows that the practice actually appears to have the reverse effect.
“Basically, the idea of daylight savings is that if we live more by natural light, then we save energy and money by using less artificial light, but what we’ve found is that this isn’t necessarily true,” Grant said.
According to Grant, while DST may save some lighting costs, the heating costs that result from the time change override the savings.
“There’s a trade-off,” Grant said. “While we found that daylight savings is saving on lighting, it’s losing on heat. Everyone has been riding on the conventional wisdom that daylight savings saves energy. That’s why we chose to study it.”
In response to the findings, Duke Energy Corp. published a letter urging caution when drawing conclusions from the results of the study.
In the letter, Duke Energy Customer Market Analysis Managing Director Richard Stevie said he disagreed with the study’s findings.
“Although we provided data to the researchers, Duke Energy has extensive questions about the study findings and we do not endorse the study’s conclusions,” Stevie said.