The “Savings” in Daylight Saving Time

When the first Sunday of November and the second Sunday of March roll around, there’s always a good deal of chatter about the actual value of Daylight Saving Time (DST). The roots of DST are firmly planted in energy and cost conservation, and go back centuries to the 1700s when Benjamin Franklin suggested that immense savings could be had if people didn’t have to start lighting candles until later in the evening (though some consider it a satire). In more modern times, modifications to DST have been tied into U.S. energy policy acts—driving home the point that DST is largely a vehicle for energy and cost savings.

A good deal of discussion around springing forward and falling back has to do with society thinking that DST has become removed from its origins. People value DST for giving them longer evenings to enjoy outdoor summer activities, as well as standard time for offering sunnier mornings to start off dreary winter days. Others eagerly await the switch to standard time to gain an extra hour of sleep and dread DST for the opposite reason. In a society that takes energy for granted, some just don’t see the point of DST anymore.

It’s this mindset on energy efficiency that has environmentalists, conservationists, companies like American Water and me most concerned. When people consider saving energy, they typically think first about conserving electricity, for example turning off a few lights and not leaving the refrigerator door open longer than necessary. While these actions do help the environment by cutting down on electricity (and your bill), energy savings also come through efficient stewardship of multiple resources, and can result in the reduction of individual, national and global carbon footprints.

Take water for example. Water and energy have a codependent relationship. When you’re using one, you are indirectly using the other.   Did you know that the electricity used in the average U.S. household requires about 250 gallons of water per person per day to generate? Or that running the hot water faucet for 5 minutes uses about the same amount of energy as burning a 60-watt bulb for 14 hours?

When one is disrupted, the other will probably be disrupted. If energy is lacking, water is threatened, and you can forget about your morning shower. If water becomes scarce, say goodbye to refrigerated foods, cellphone charging, or using your hair dryer and all other plugged-in convenient “essentials” you depend on.

The good news is this: by conserving water, you conserve energy. By conserving energy, you help make sure there is water for consumption. Moreover, by doing both, you reduce carbon emissions.

So next time you’re changing your clocks, remember to keep working on changing your habits to reduce water and energy consumption. You’ll be making a greater impact than you think!