The Money Saving Aspects of Daylight Savings Time

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

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5 Responses to The Money Saving Aspects of Daylight Savings Time

  1. Jack says:

    Daylight saving time is a fraud, it’s a lie. The author writes as though this innane clock-changing actually creates daylight. It does not create one millisecond of daylight. You can take that clock, change it forward or backward, throw it in the air or slam it against the wall and there’s still the same number of daylight hours per day.

    The author can work in her garden in the morning just as well as in the evening. There’s no reason why we all must wake up on dark, dreary, depressing “daylight saving” mornings just so people can golf after work instead of before work. I think waking up in the dark makes it harder to get up in the morning. When it doesn’t get dark until 10 p.m., it keeps us up later. This results in less sleep, which makes us less, not more, productive.

    While the author rides her bike in the evening light, she could do the same in the morning light. However, most people drive their cars more when it’s light longer in the evening.

    According According to an April 5, 2007 article in USA Today, gasoline consumption was up 3% in March ’07 compared to the same three-week period the previous two years when we were on standard time. Since it was light longer in the evening, people were out more driving their cars going places. If daylight saving wastes gas, a non-renewable resource, in March, wouldn’t it stand to reason it wastes energy other months of the year?

  2. buzymommy says:

    I completly agree with comment #1. It doesn’t save you anything. It actually wastes your time because you have to spend time to change all those clocks. You have to adjust your schedule, because you have to wake up at a different time and go to sleep at a different time, so that creates extra stress, and that might make people want to have extra snacks or some kind of treat, which makes you spend more money.

    I don’t think it would save lots of electricity if everybody would go to sleep an hour earlier, because lightbulbs don’t take as much as appliances and heat/ac that you have to use anyways.

  3. Sally says:

    NPR recently did a story on the myth of daylight savings time saving energy costs

  4. Hilary says:

    I grew up without DST, and I must say, things were much simpler….

  5. Wendy says:

    I’m no expert, but here’s my take.

    I’m a young female who works until 7:30 at night. I do not have a car, and my apartment isn’t in the best part of town. I greatly enjoy walking home when it’s still light outside, rather than when the sun has set over three hours prior (and people have already been at the bars for awhile). I could certainly walk in the morning, but I suspect my employer would not appreciate an office sleepover.

    I don’t know. The amazing hassle it is to chance all two of my digital clocks and have just a little less daylight in the morning – I wake up at 6:30 in the morning, and there’s always enough light for me regardless of what time of year it is – doesn’t seem like that big a deal. Perhaps it’s because I’m young, but I have no problem adapting my sleeping schedule (in fact, when I went to Japan, I was the only one without a serious case of jetlag. Go figure.)

    If it is for you, stop complaining and move to Arizona. We’ll all be happier, I think.

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