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How Will Daylight Saving Time Affect Your Electric Rates?

Silver alarm clock on a bed of grass in the afternoon sunshine, representing Daylight Savings Time.

How Will Daylight Saving Time Affect Your Electric Rates?

On the second Sunday in March, most Americans “spring forward” and set their clocks ahead one hour for Daylight Saving Time (DST). The the modern use and concept of DST began in 1908 when Canadian residents of Port Arthur, Ontario decided to set their clocks forward by one hour to help conserve daylight. Although Daylight Saving Time is used by about 40% of the world right now to help make more use of daylight, there is a lot of debate about whether or not the practice actually conserves energy.

Daylight Saving Time In The U.S.

Although the conception of DST is credited to a number of sources including Benjamin Franklin, a New Zealand entomologist and many others, Americans began to practice DST during WWI in order to conserve fuel for the war effort. Decades later in 1973, President Nixon signed the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act in to law, making it a permanent fixture in the US. Although DST is observed throughout most of the US, there are some areas where it is not used including Arizona (except for the Navajo on tribal lands), Hawaii and the overseas territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Passing the law effectively eliminated a lot of confusion about where and when the practice would take place in the US.

A Highly Debated Subject

Daylight Saving Time is a seemingly simple concept, but its use and subsequent expansion over the years has been a politically-charged topic for many. Despite the passing of the DST law, states maintain have the right to determine whether or not they will observe DST. Generally speaking, brick-and-mortar businesses tend to support DST because the extra daylight provides more time for consumers to shop. Other groups believe that DST is a hassle and generates no real benefit.

The theory behind DST is that the extra hour of daylight in the evening translates to a lower energy usage as less additional lighting is needed. But some research indicates that DST may not really achieve the desired goals. For example, one study conducted in a warmer climate showed a lower electricity usage from lighting during DST but a higher electricity usage from air-conditioning needed due to the added warmth from the extra hour of  daylight. In other studies, the energy savings from the brighter evenings were negated by additional energy costs from darker mornings. Some studies have even indicated that DST actually increases energy consumption.

The Bottom Line

Depending on your daily schedule, Daylight Saving Time may have other benefits for you, such as having more available time to enjoy the great outdoors. Daily life is a bit different now for most Americans compared to 1918 when DST was first established in the US. Therefore, you’re unlikely to experience an electricity savings due to DST. Regardless of time of year, we recommend you take reasonable steps to help conserve energy year-round. There are other ways to save on energy too. Selecting a different provider can help you secure a lower rate for yout electricity. PointClickSwitch collects rates from energy providers and can help you find the lowest rate. Click here to start saving on your utilities now.

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