18 April 2007

A timely boondoggle

Has daylight saving time fuelled gasoline consumption?

The US government's plan to save energy by advancing daylight saving time - and the copycat action by Canada - appears to have driven up gasoline consumption as motorists took advantage of the evening daylight to hit the road, a Calgary energy analyst says. Peter Tertzakian, chief economist at ARC Financial, said the daylight policy is a textbook case of politicians “exacerbating the problems they were originally trying to tackle.” He said US gasoline demand was growing at a rate of 1.9% prior to the early introduction of daylight saving time, then jumped to a rate of 2.9%, which represents an additional 266,000 barrels a day of crude oil imports. As part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the US Congress decreed that daylight saving time would begin this year in mid-March, rather than the first week of April, and would end a week later this fall. Sponsors of the bill claimed the extra daylight in the evening would save electricity because Americans would use fewer lights during the waking hours. With the exception of Saskatchewan, Canadian provinces fell in line with the US measure because they did not want to be out of sync with their major trading partner. But Tertzakian looked at data on both electricity and gasoline consumption for that three extra weeks of daylight savings time. He concluded that, while there was a negligible impact on power usage, demand for gasoline climbed significantly during the period. The economist said timely data is not available in Canada, but that he assumed the same pattern held as in the US. “I'm highly confident that there's been no impact on electricity demand as a consequence of this program,” he said in an interview. “The major assumption was that the hour [of daylight] that you take away in the morning, people were sleeping. But that's not necessarily true - they get up and have to turn the lights on to make breakfast; you haven't gained anything.”
(Globe and Mail 070418)

More evidence on just how stupid politicians really are.

Daylight savings time is a dumb idea for Canada. It's dark all winter anyways, so why not just keep our time on Daylight savings time all the time? It won't make a difference in the winter, but in the summer it will already be in place as soon as the days start getting longer. Factor in the societal costs of the changes twice a year - the well documented increase in car accidents the Monday after the spring time change, the loss of productivity from tired employees, and the time change looks even more stupid.

Good intentions, unintended consequences....

Funny that the assumption was that we would save a few thousand barrels of oil equivalent in electricity by changing the time sooner in the spring and later in the fall and not take into account the reality of people's lives. People might be putting their lights on in the morning earlier now, but more importantly -- they're out burning up more gasoline because it's still daylight out later in the evening. How ridiculous!

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