While many of us were asleep, Daylight Saving Time (DSL) once again came to a peaceful end at 2 o’clock in the morning on Sunday. That’s when most of us in the U.S. reset our clocks to “normal time” by dutifully turning them back one hour. But why? What is the reason for this annual autumn tradition?
Governments around the globe began implementing the switch to daylight saving time each year during World Wars I and II in an effort to save energy and resources for their war campaigns. Since World War II and until very recently, daylight saving time in the U.S. ran from April until mid-October. But then, in a move that they hoped would help save energy, Congress adjusted DST to begin three weeks earlier and extend one week later in 2007. They cited the fact that longer daylight in the evening hours reduced people’s need to turn on lights in their homes at night.
Real Or Imagined Savings?
Critics of the policy questioned this decision by Congress, wondering whether people would simply be turning on just as many lights in the morning hours instead. In response, the Department of Energy studied the energy savings in 2008 and found that during daylight saving time U.S. electricity use decreased by 0.5 percent per day. That may not seem like much, but it added up to 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours, enough to power about 122,000 average U.S. homes for one year!
Falling Leaves, Rising Energy Costs?
Daylight saving time has come to its’ chilly November end once again and the entire U.S. is now back on normal time. Earlier sunsets and less hours of daylight will also mean energy meters ticking up higher usage numbers and generating increased bills. Here are a few tips to help you reduce your energy use and maybe even get your bills to fall this autumn, and throughout the winter, by utilizing the sun, wind, air, and water heating power of your home more efficiently:
Let The Sunshine In
Open the curtains or blinds on the doors and window of your home with southern exposure during the day. The sun acts as free solar heating and also provides natural, free lighting during daytime hours. Make sure to close all window coverings in the evening to keep heat inside.
Blowing In The Wind
Heat gets sucked away through drafty windows, electrical outlets, light switches and other interior openings. Reducing air leaks could cut 10 percent from an average household’s monthly energy bill.Install foam gaskets behind outlets and switches to keep heat inside. Close unused outlets with plastic safety caps. Use caulk to seal openings around windows. Make sure your windows are locked and sealed tight to help keep heat inside.
The Heat Is On
Keep your thermostat set no higher than 68 degrees during the day and evening hours. For every degree you lower your heat from 70 down to 60 degrees you’ll save up to five percent on heating costs. Wear a sweater or extra layer of clothing inside the home. Set the thermostat back to 55 degrees, or even lower, at night or when no one is at home. This can cut anywhere from five to twenty percent off of your heating costs.
Keep the temperature of your water heater set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit at all times to save money on your heating bill. This is an important safety precaution too, especially if you have small children, as it can prevent serious injuries caused by hot water that’s too hot. Also install water-flow restrictors in showerheads and on all faucets.
Take these simple steps to keep your home and family warm, cozy and comfortable as the times and seasons change.