The selling point for daylight saving time has always been, you know, savings.
Historically speaking, that meant saving on candle wax, or coal, or oil for your lamp.
Nowadays, those aren’t really things.
Hence the question: Does daylight saving time really produce savings?
The answer: Maybe not so much.
“I know of no credible study that has documented any savings whatsoever in energy from adopting daylight saving time”, William Shughart, an economist at Utah State University, told USA Today.
“As far as I can tell, all of the effects of daylight saving time are costs,” he said.
By most accounts, it was Ben Franklin who cooked up the idea in 1784 that people can save money on candles by shifting their schedules to maximize sunshine.
Germany took that advice to heart as a wartime measure in 1916. And America followed suit in 1918 and again during World War II.
Our modern system of daylight saving was adopted in 1966.
Congress and the Nixon administration toyed with ending the time shifts during the 1974 energy crisis, arguing that this would reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil.
“But it was just a wild idea that had no empirical support,” Shughart said. “It sounds plausible, but there’s nothing there.”
In 2008, the Energy Department determined that, economically speaking, daylight saving time reduced America’s energy consumption by an annual rate of 0.03% — not the most robust saving you can imagine.
Other research found that the time shifts actually may take an economic toll on the country.
A 2008 study found that resetting clocks cost Indiana citizens $9 million a year in higher electricity bills.
Shughart estimates that fiddling with time costs the nation about $1.7 billion a year in lost productivity.
Some states have stopped forcing people to reset their clocks, and others, including California, are leaning in that direction.
Nevertheless, the madness continues.
Count me among those who see little value in all the time travel. Let’s leave our clocks alone.