As the author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, I am asked one question more than any other. Do we save energy by turning our clocks ahead?
The answer is No. The answer has been no for more than 100 years.
And yet, I am repeatedly asked the question, as if it is hard to believe that sticking our fingers into the faces of our clocks twice a year doesn't add up.
Daylight saving saves us nothing.
The best studies we have prove that we use more domestic electricity during the daylight-saving period. During the first three years that the entire state of Indiana practiced daylight saving, according to the meticulous study conducted by Matthew Kochen of Yale University, Hoosiers annually spent $9 million additional dollars on domestic electricity.
Despite its green-seeming name, Daylight Saving Time has never saved us a kilowatt or a drop of oil.
Indeed, daylight saving dramatically increases our use of gasoline. This is why the National Association of Convenience Stores is a leader among the many retail lobbies who press Congress to expand the period of daylight saving every year. Americans buy more than 85 percent of their gasoline at convenience stores and mini-marts outfitted with gasoline pumps. The petroleum industry has understood the link between later sunset times and leisure driving since 1930, when it funded the early attempts to persuade California to join East Coast cities and adopt the policy of shoving our clocks forward.
Other retailers in the sports and recreation industry--notably the golf, barbecue, and home-repair sectors--profit, too, with each additional month of daylight saving adding up more than $1 billion to their combined sales.
Of course, profiteering, like Major League Baseball (another longtime supporter of daylight saving) is a great American sport. But it is not always easy to understand exactly who is profiting by the clock change.
So in honor of the ongoing confusion, I offer this glimpse at a few of the confounding pairs of daylight's historical supporters and detractors.
Proponents of Daylight Saving*****Opponents of Daylight Saving
Garden-equipment and seed retailers*****Farmers
Barbecue industry*****Cattle ranchers
Petroleum industry*****Coal Miners
Samuel Gompers*****Unionized industrial workers
Winston Churchill*****British Royal Astronomer
Ronald Reagan*****Hollywood movie studios
Ayatollah Khomeini*****Fundamentalist religious leaders
Major League Baseball*****Television and radio broadcasters
Battery manufacturers*****Gas and Electric utilities
New York City*****Broadway theaters
Candy makers*****Parents of school-age children
Joseph Stalin*****Vladimir Putin
Richard Nixon*****Richard Nixon