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Did you remember to spring forward?

So, did you do it? Or were you one of those forgetful people who strolled into work an hour late this morning? Yes, Daylight Saving Time (DST) happened this weekend and we “sprung ahead” by one hour. DST not only gives us more evening sunlight, it’s also aimed at reducing our energy consumption.

Most homes’ energy consumption is directly connected to the times its occupants go to sleep and wake up. High energy drawing appliances (dishwashers, washers and dryers, and microwaves) are used more frequently in the evening when people return home from work. Moving the clocks ahead by one hour, especially when the days are already getting longer, allows for a greater amount of electricity to be saved. With more outdoor events in full swing during the summer months and people being away from their homes for longer periods, less energy will be consumed by default.

The US government does not require all states or territories to observe DST, therefore most areas of Arizona, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico don’t participate. There is often confusion for neighboring areas when it comes to Daylight Saving Time, with many yearly requests for various states’ governments to either repeal this measure or adjust it based on need.

Michael Downing of Tufts University stated,

This year I think the Kentucky/Tennessee situation is particularly interesting. Each state has two time zones, which adds to the complications, but if their two proposals went through their independent legislatures, Tennessee would be on permanent DST while Kentucky would be on permanent standard time. That would mean—and this is ridiculous but true—cities in Tennessee’s eastern time zone and Kentucky’s central time zone that are only 5 or 10 miles [8 to 16 kilometers] apart would have two-hour time differences.

Similarly, there is debate as to the effectiveness of DST altogether. A 2007 study by the California Energy Commission found little positive energy savings from following Daylight Saving Time. Additionally, there are other concerns that can arise from DST. Some people feel that their sleep is compromised adversely when they lose an hour in the spring, and it may take a week or two to get back on schedule. One concern that immediately came to my mind was children at or walking to the bus stop. Last week, on a typical morning, it was light enough for most kids while getting ready for school. Now, it’s dark again when they are crossing the street or waiting alone near cars driving to work. Are there more traffic accidents immediately following “Spring Forward”? Does DST cause more problems than it helps?

Final Notes

This is a great time to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon dioxide alarms! By changing out batteries and doing basic upkeep each DST, you ensure all your important devices will work if and when needed. In addition, you can use this time to review emergency exit plans and make sure house alarms work properly. While it may be difficult to accurately measure if DST has a great impact on energy reduction, it’s clear there are other benefits.

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