Saturday, November 01, 2008

Daylight Saving Time Costs Nation $1.7 Billion

Since the passage of the Energy Security Act of 2005, which extended daylight saving time (DST) by four weeks—to eight months of the year—DST has become more standard than...standard time. According to the legislation’s co-sponsors, Reps. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Fred Upton, R-Mich., the daylight saving time extension is supposed to significantly reduce energy usage, as evening sunlight replaces power-generated electricity an additional hour each day.

Unfortunately, this dramatic cut in energy use could very well be illusory, while the costs of daylight saving time are very real.


According to a "back-of-the-envelope calculation" by economist William F. Shughart, the real costs of daylight saving time amounts to $1.7 billion or more annually, read more here.

19 Comments:

At 3/11/2008 11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a specious link! Reads like a crank who doesn't like setting clocks! I like to think that DST is a bi-annual reminder that time is relative.

We, as a society set it's limits and it's agreed-upon value. I don't see it as a chore, but I can see how many do.

 
At 3/11/2008 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like all government meddling the expanding daylight savings time by three weeks a couple of years ago was due to lobbying, also known as bribing threw campaign contributions for our bought and paid for political leaders by the BBQ industry.

 
At 3/11/2008 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The opportunity cost exists whether one changes clocks 2 weeks earlier in the year or not.

I assume, Prof. Perry, that this example of faulty logic was intended to test the effects of DSL on our circadian rhythm which might be reflected by lower mental acuity.

One might also counter that increased light levels beneficially enhance mood, and increase vitamin D absorption thereby increasing productivity.
One might even argue that extending DSL lowers traffic fatalities since statistically, accidents are higher at dusk.

That being said, a deliterious effect on mental acuity would appear to be supported by Anon. 11:00 who uses "it's" incorrectly yet again despite several recent corrections explaining the correct use (a contraction meaning "it is" rather than the possessive "its").

 
At 3/11/2008 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never understood the reasoning behind the change. When I was young I understood it to be so that farmers could get an extra hour of work out of kids who were impacted by school. Being a dairy farm kid, however, I milked in the morning well before dawn and in the evening as well, so that didn't make sense at all.

In this study(?), however, I would note that not everyone in a household changes the clocks (usually just one or two people do that) and I can't imagine having so many that it takes one or two people 10 minutes to accomplish that. Also, since it's done on Saturday night, there's no impact on work and most of us don't get paid for weekends, so I can't see where the costs come from.
Therefore, it seems that either there is no cost or (if it's something subsantially less than 10minutes multiplied by the number of households) the cost should be substantially less than $1.7 billion.
On the other hand, since this took me over ten minutes, it's on work time and it's about DST, maybe it's a wash.

 
At 3/11/2008 2:40 PM, Blogger Thomas Blair said...

The energy saving argument from a natural vs electric light standpoint is more than offset by the increased air conditioning done during that additional hour of sunlit afternoon.

Furthermore, because so few companies/individuals utilize natural light in office and manufacturing settings, little electricity is saved during that additional hour. Even in the dead of winter, the sun only sets as early as 430-5pm, which happens to be when offices are closing down for the day anyway. Sunsets in early March (when DST begins) occur well after 5pm anyway.

 
At 3/11/2008 4:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a matter of back of the envelope calculations, any guesses as to how much other activities cost in terms of opportunity cost by comparison - for example, blogging, forwarding "motivational emails", deleting the endless email advertisements for manhood enhancement or talking with a telemarketer about a product you don't want?

In this context, does 10 minutes spent changing a handful of clocks constitute a material opportunity cost? Our lives are in fact filled with hundreds of time wasting activities.

Speaking of which, I better get back to work!

 
At 3/12/2008 8:10 AM, Blogger Dave Narby said...

1.7 Billion?!?!

Oh come on.

Besides the fact that it happens on the weekend, getting up an hour earlier or later isn't enough time to screw with your circadian rhythms (assuming such things exist).

If the author was REALLY concerned with saving workers time, a much better axe to grind is the time lost due to toll booths.

Traffic tolls are an unimaginably inefficient way of collecting tax revenues.

How many lost hours are spent in jams due to toll collection, or due to the stress that results from being stuck waiting for a jam to clear because the state brings traffic flow to screeching halt so it can bleed a little from each commuter? How many accidents from sudden stops in the flow?

If daylight savings time costs us 1.7 billion, then traffic tolls cost us at least 10% of our GNP!

 
At 3/13/2008 8:30 AM, Blogger Bob said...

I was in San Antonio Sunday and had a 3:55 pm flight home but was anxious to get home earlier if possible. I saw that several earlier flights were going so I headed to the airport around 10 am. (I'm an elite traveler and they will do this for me without charge or trouble. I know Sundays tend to be relatively quiet and finding an empty seat is usually quite easy.) But not this Sunday!!! The agent told me that so many people missed morning flights because of the time change that all the open seats during the day were taken up by them being rebooked onto later flights. Sigh....(Oh, and my flight was delayed, I missed my connection, got stuck in Cincinnati 120 miles from home, and had to have a friend come get me because there were no rental cars available. I guess I can't blame ALL of that on the time change though.)

 
At 3/13/2008 11:29 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> Multiplying that number by the total U.S. population

This is obviously doubtful, since it ignores the fact that the average houshold has like 2.6-odd people in it, meaning that at least a substantial chunk of those clocks (i.e., not the watches) are only set once by one of those people -- and, if the household is smart, it's by a mature child if there is one (i.e., cheaper labor).

Certainly the expense of converting may not be insignificant, it's unlikely to be anywhere near as high as this estimate puts it at.


ALSO:
> Traffic tolls are an unimaginably inefficient way of collecting tax revenues.

Yes, but they are working on automated systems to simplify that process -- many places (Florida, for example, with SunPass) have an all-electronic system for collecting such, which involve one simply speeding through a metering portico.

I'm not a big fan of such systems more because they are often used to subsidize other, unrelated systems (FL tolls on the Turnpike, long since paid off, are used to subsidize OTHER road projects -- they are notably higher than they were back when it was actually getting paid off), than the basic concept itself. When it turns into a pork system for the government -- especially one which is "hidden" from public view -- that's when the real gummint abuse kicks in.

 
At 11/01/2008 10:29 AM, Anonymous qt said...

"deleting the endless email advertisements for manhood enhancement"

You delete those?

Rough calculations do not include for equipment such as cell and computers that have the time automatically updated to DST. Increasingly people are getting the time from their cell phone or blackberry rather than wearing a wrist watch.

Recent study shows increased risk of heart attack associated with seasonal time changes. Funnily, heart attack #'s are statistically higher in fall than spring (24% higher vs. spring forward increased risk of 6%). Makes you wonder what drives the increased heart attack risk in fall...declining sunlight, lower vitamin D levels, depression?

 
At 11/01/2008 11:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of years ago when the bought and paid for floozies in CONgress extended daylight savings time it was for the benefit of the BBQ industry. Enough said.

 
At 11/01/2008 1:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who gives a f*ck. We spend 10BB / Month in IRAQ.

 
At 11/01/2008 3:58 PM, Anonymous qt said...

Unless you pay someone a salary for changing clocks or other household chores, you might call this an opportunity cost but realistically, there has been no expenditure unlike government spending on Iraq.

Private costs (ie. the cost to collect, administer and remit sales taxes or the cost to get your tax return done) are seldom viewed as costs by our fearless political leaders. Non-monetary costs are even less likely to be a concern.

 
At 11/01/2008 4:42 PM, Anonymous Kevin said...

qt - you got the study backwards - there are fewer heart attacks in fall because folks benefit from extra sleep and more heart attacks in spring due to loss of sleep

 
At 11/01/2008 6:55 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Yeah, speaking of specious and crank like, consider the following: "Reads like a crank who doesn't like setting clocks! I like to think that DST is a bi-annual reminder that time is relative"...

"We, as a society set it's limits and it's agreed-upon value"...

Oh yeah, when did we has a democratic society get a chance to vote on this inanity called daylight savings time? Was it on any state or national ballot over the last thirty plus years?

"In this context, does 10 minutes spent changing a handful of clocks constitute a material opportunity cost?"...

Yeah, its ten minutes of life you'll never get back...

"Our lives are in fact filled with hundreds of time wasting activities"...

Your life maybe...

"If the author was REALLY concerned with saving workers time, a much better axe to grind is the time lost due to toll booths"...

Who voted the politicos into office that put the toll roads in place in the first place?

"Who gives a f*ck. We spend 10BB / Month in IRAQ"...

We waste quite a bit more pandering to parasites and theives per week...

 
At 11/01/2008 10:57 PM, Anonymous qt said...

Kev,

I was looking at the total numbers of heart attacks. 1636 in the sprng and 2038 in the fall without the issue of day light saving changes. The variance between spring and fall incidence of heart attacks would appear to be greater than the variance between the seasonal norm vs. adjustments to daylight savings time.

Isn't it worth asking why this might be so? One would have to check the report to determine the methodology and how many years of data have been used to compile the results. It raises a curious question which I imagine has already been asked and one cannot help but be interesting to know what conclusions have been drawn.

 
At 11/01/2008 11:04 PM, Anonymous qt said...

The 9 years of swedish data are not the only indication of an increased seasonal risk of heart attack. More on seasonal heart attack risk.

 
At 11/02/2008 3:48 AM, Blogger Dennis said...

We've been protesting this here in Arizona for several years. Jump on the bandwagon.

 
At 11/05/2008 9:46 AM, Anonymous nobrainer said...

Let me join the chorus and say, "come on, Mark!" Your bullsh*t detector should have gone off when you read how that estimate was made.

If you're going to link to something so specious, at least, AT LEAST, be a little bit critical.

 

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