What does daylight saving time have to do with energy?

Don’t forget to spring ahead this weekend! In 2007, the Energy Policy Act added four weeks to daylight saving time by changing the dates. Most of the United States observes daylight saving time on the second Sunday of March and the first Sunday in November. But where did this practice come from and what does it have to do with energy?

Germany and the United Kingdom were the first countries to embrace daylight saving time to conserve electricity during World War I. The United States first adopted daylight saving time towards the end of World War I and then again during World War II. However, there was no federal law to regulate the time changes across the country and it was very confusing! In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act and officially established uniform dates for daylight saving time.

So how much energy does daylight saving time really save? The Energy Department conducted a study in 2008 and found that the extra four weeks of daylight saving time saved about 0.5 percent in total electricity per day. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up to electricity savings of 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours! That is enough electricity to power more than 100,000 households for an entire year! These electricity savings generally occur during a three- to five-hour period in the evening.

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