I’m a huge fan of daylight savings time. I hate the long dark winters and get excited when we make the transition to longer days. But beyond my joy at more daylight, the transition to daylight savings time also saves me money. When we moved to the longer period of daylight savings time last year, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my savings went up even more. No, I’m not putting away enough to buy a new car, but since every little bit helps, I like to keep track of what saves me even a little bit of money.
That DST saves money is good news since the idea that DST saves energy might not be accurate. DST is supposed to reduce energy consumption and costs because the extended daylight hours reduce the need for lighting. However, there have been some studies done that indicate that DST may not save as much energy as we first thought. While not definitive, the study indicates that the extra air conditioning and heating costs associated with the change may cancel out any savings in lighting.
So if DST isn’t saving energy, what is it good for? Does it serve any other purpose beyond giving us a mood lift? Sure. It saves money. Beyond the savings on my utility bill from reduced lighting, I’ve identified ten ways that DST saves me money.
1. I eat less, so I spend less on food. I think it’s because I have so much more to do when the days are long that I don’t eat out of boredom as much. By the time I come in from working outside, it’s too late for a snack and I’m tired anyway, so I just head for bed, bypassing the big dinners and late night snacks.
2. I spend less on gas. When the days are longer, I can ride my bike or walk to some places I want to go after work without as many safety concerns. Also, I go out less in general because I’m busy working and playing outside so I consume less gas.
3. I go out to eat less often. Although I don’t eat out much during the rest of the year, during DST my outings drop to almost never. I’m busier out in my garden and being outside is more fun to me than going to a restaurant. By the time I’m ready to come inside, it’s too late to go back out to eat.
4. I’m less tempted to shop. Even though I’m not a huge shopper, when DST rolls around I go to the stores even less. There’s too much else to do-summer concert series’, sports, reading a good book in the hammock, working in the garden, etc.-to spend time in an artificially lit store.
5. I’m less likely to go to the movies. As with eating out and shopping, I don’t go to the movies very often but once DST starts, I don’t go at all. Most summers go by without me seeing a single movie. When there’s so much to do outside, I’d rather not sit in a dark theater.
6. I crank out more work. This isn’t so much a money saver as a money-earner but when DST begins, my productivity level jumps. Since I work from home, in front of a window, my work area is a better lit and more positive place to be than in the dark days of winter. I like to be there. I can also take my work outside in the evenings and write while I watch the sunset. I find that I’m more productive during DST because I like to work in such positive environs.
7. I reduce my NetFlix package. During DST, I drop from the three-out-at-a-time plan to the one-out-at-a-time plan. I just don’t have time to watch as many movies since I’m outside until dark. By the time I come in, it’s too late to watch anything. So I drop my plan down to the minimum needed to provide rainy day or weekend entertainment.
8. I grow more of my own food. Having longer days means that I can work in my garden after work and produce more of my own food. If the days remained shorter, I would lose that time and not be able to produce as much. (I also sell some of the excess so I make a bit of extra cash.)
9. Beyond lighting, my energy bill goes down in other ways. For example, I use the stove less often to cook since I can use the charcoal grill outside and I use the dryer less since I can hang my clothes on the line.
10. Intangible savings. I don’t know how to track it, but I know that I save money during DST because I’m simply in a better mood most of the time. The extra daylight keeps me sane. I don’t have to fight the need to “self-medicate” with food, stuff, or outings the way I do during the winter. Because I’m outside doing things, I’m away from the dismal news more during DST and that helps to keep me in a happier place, as well.
For me, daylight savings time is both a mood enhancer and a money saver. It’s a time of year that I look forward to. Even if it turns out that DST doesn’t reduce energy consumption by the amounts previously thought, I’m still all for it because it saves money in other ways.
Image courtesy of stephen031