Under the new legislation passed by the United States Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, today is the first day of daylight savings! Rather than moving your clock forward one hour at 2am on the first Sunday in April, we will instead be moving them up at 2am on the second Sunday in March (that’s today!). The reason given for all of this is that it will allow the United States to reduce demand for electricity during the extra month by roughly 1%, which represents a great deal of energy in bulk terms, by having one less hour in the day during which we all have our lights on.
There is some controversy over this, however. Some people argue that there is no net gain in energy savings as the result of daylight savings, because given the way that most people’s schedules work these days, what it really means is we just run the lights for an hour in the morning, instead. At least one study performed on a real-life example of the nation of Australia extending daylight savings by two months to help facilitate the 2000 Sydney Olympics, showed that there were no actual gains in the observed level of electricity demand, even after adjusted for weather conditions and other factors, under the extended daylight savings program.
There is also the issue of what this change means for all of the computer systems which are programmed to use the old daylight savings time rules. People have been talking about a “mini Y2k”. I, for what it’s worth, don’t believe that anything is going to come crashing down around us as the result. All of the major computer systems that rely on time data have already been updated. There might be some minor problems, particularly among smaller companies with less extensive technology staff, but the lights will stay on, and the planes will stay airborne.
Then again, I’m posting this rather late, so maybe my computer’s clock has already foiled my attempts to be timely with this post.