Not much, when you look at the facts.
In 2013, Daylight Savings Time is an unwanted thorn in many people's sides. When it was first established in the times of Benjamin Franklin, it made sense. People were burning candles in the evening and sleeping in while the sun was shining. Nowadays, very few people are terribly concerned with the amount of wax they may be wasting by burning a candle for an extra hour. Instead, candles are burnt to scent or room or provide ambiance. That is because we have...wait for it...electricity.
DST is still about conserving energy. But how much energy do we really save by turning on lamps a little earlier in the evening, especially with the invention of highly efficient light bulbs? Besides, if you are a working stiff, like so many of us, you end up having to turn on lights in the morning to make sure you look presentable before heading to the office. Where is the energy savings in that? In fact, very little research has been done on whether or not DST actually conserves energy over a person's lifetime.
When the State of Indiana adopted DST in 2006, economists at the University of California found that, cumulatively, household energy bills actually increased by $9 million per year. If calculations are correct, that is a lot of "wasted" energy, unless of course you are the power company. Then, you are all for time change padding your corporate pockets by promoting holding onto this likely unnecessary practice.
The average American who lives in an area impacted by biannual time changes may or may not like DST. Many probably don't care and consider falling back and springing forward just a fact of life. However, for those enthusiastically against the prospect of gaining and losing hours, here are some reasons that support your cause:
• DST is a waste of air-conditioning. OK, this one may not be highly applicable in Crookston, but an extra hour of sunlight in warmer climates means using more energy to cool homes. Remember poor Indiana?
• DST increases pollution. Using more energy to cool, heat, or light a home will lead to more pollution emissions unless you are fortunate enough to live in a completely green home or happen to reside in a tent and have a phobia of flashlights, lanterns and campfires.
• DST wreaks havoc on your body. According to a 2008 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, there is a significant increase in heart attacks during the first three weekdays after springing forward each year. Is this a result in changes in your sleep patterns? Many people struggle for a few days after the time change to go to bed and wake up at their regular times. Although many of us like to believe we can exist on less sleep, it catches up with you quickly. Coffee and energy drinks just don't cut it after awhile, which results in drowsiness behind the wheel, more workplace injuries and a lower level of productivity. Yes, it is technically possible to use DST as an excuse for loafing around at work for a couple of days, but don't be surprised if your boss doesn't by it.
• Bessie the cow hates DST, which is supposed to be a bonus for farmers. However, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, a survey of dairy farmers concluded that cows have to wait an extra hour in the fall to get milked and don't like it. Although a survey probably didn't have to been conducted to figure this one out, it could be said DST is an occupational hazard for farmers, with an increased chance of getting kicked by a crabby cow at milking time. Ouch!
• Daylight savings time is, well, annoying. Adjusting all of your clocks and watches is just plain irritating. Waking up an hour earlier stinks. Feeling out of synch for a couple of days, not really being certain of the time, makes you feel like you are living in a bit of a daze.
Love it or hate it, DST is here to stay, at least for the time being. Every so often Congress is approached with yeas and nays for keeping the practice going.
Congratulations on making it through another year of springing forward. Take some good advice and put falling back out of your head for now. Don't worry, it will be here before you know it.