Bill Kirby

Online news editor for The Augusta Chronicle.

Is daylight saving just a waste of time?

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An extra yawn one morning in the springtime, an extra snooze one night in the autumn is all that we ask in return for dazzling gifts. We borrow an hour one night in April; we pay it back with golden interest five months later.

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-- Winston Churchill

California might be earthquake prone, close to bankruptcy and generally irritating, but the Golden State does have an extensive bureaucracy and some nifty Web sites.

That's where I found the results of some hard work from the California Energy Commission, which compiled about a dozen federal and state studies that looked at daylight saving time and came to the conclusion that its extension "had little or no effect on energy consumption in California."

Sorry, but the annual clockwork chicanery, which our nation undertook once again this weekend, is a holdover from some government efforts back in the 1960s and '70s. They tried to makes us save energy by giving us more daylight, and they tried to get us to take up the metric system.

As I recall, we rose up as a nation and rejected the metric system, which is logical and practical, preferring instead our traditional inches, yards, pounds and pints.

As for daylight saving time, we kept it because we thought we'd save on the light bill. Now we know it doesn't work, but we still do it anyway.

Yes, I know, we don't live in California. Maybe daylight saving time actually works in Georgia. I thought you might bring that up, so I called Georgia Power, which patiently crunched some numbers, diced some data and asked its energy efficiency expert whether we in the Southeast realized any great savings because we mess with our clocks twice a year.

No.

"In our view, changing the time of daylight hours does not change the length of daylight hours or the levels of temperature in the daylight hours," said Lynn Wallace, of Georgia Power. "Therefore, energy usage should be the same."

So why do it? Why, twice a year, do we alter our schedules for a purpose that seems noble and practical, but is actually a waste of time?

Beats me.

The best way I can explain it is that daylight saving time is sort of like Columbus Day, which we continue to celebrate each October even though we all know now that Columbus didn't discover America .

Likewise, daylight saving time might not help anything, but it apparently it doesn't hurt us much either.

I know, I asked a doctor.

Dr. Stewart Shevitz, the interim chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior at Georgia Health Sciences University, was kind enough to respond to my curious inquiries about whether our time manipulation affected one's mental state.

"For most people," he wrote in an e-mail, "the time change is not a significant issue."

I, for one, hope it didn't make you late for church this morning.

Comments (4) Add comment
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andnowfor
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andnowfor 03/13/11 - 08:49 am
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Ignoring the fact that

Ignoring the fact that producers (i.e. the ones who make money) off energy might argue that the savings are negligent or not existent, there is a real benefit from Day Light Savings.In July, the sun will rise in Augusta at 6:30am, without Day Light Savings it would be around 5:30am. This effect is magnified as you move north. In Scranton, PA the sun will rise at 5:30am in July, without DLS it would be fully sunny out at 4:30 in the morning. I don't mind a little inconvenience to have it dark while I am asleep and light while I am awake.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 03/13/11 - 09:52 am
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I love it. More time for

I love it. More time for golf.

CabisKhan
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CabisKhan 03/14/11 - 07:25 am
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Why not make savings time,

Why not make savings time, with all of its extra daylight to play, the normal time and when we switch during the winter that should be called "daylight wasting time" (DWT)?

Newsreader
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Newsreader 03/14/11 - 04:25 pm
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While I am not surprised that

While I am not surprised that the government studies could not find benefit in the program (government studies tend to validate the opinion of the producer, not find the true facts of a program or product). I am sure that the spokesperson for Georgia Power failed to into account that we tend to only use lighting while we are active not when idle (people sleep = idle, business closed = idle), shifting time to have the majority of people asleep in the dark and awake when light, then there has to be some save of energy. Surely if the evening hours when I am still active, were dark, as in winter, then I would need energy, and light. Shifting the time means that I have daylight when awakening, and still keep it longer till I retire for the night, I know I shave off some Killowatt Hours that Georgia Power would charge me for using. But since I live in South Carolina and am served by my LOCAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, I really don't care what Georgia Power thinks. I will continue to support the archaic shift of time each spring and fall. Prior to the railroads, no one really knew what time it was, they worked from sunrise to sunset and hoped it did not rain on the weekends when they could relax and enjoy leisure.

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