Daylight Saving Time Myths and Truths



You might love it. You might hate it. You probably use incorrect grammar when talking about it. But the fact of the matter is, if you’re a business owner you probably profit from it. Let’s clear up a few myths about daylight saving time.

It’s not a noun . . .  it’s not a verb . . .

There’s no ‘S’ after saving. Really. You’ve been saying it wrong all these years. It’s saving time – not savings time. In this case, the word saving is used as an adjective. Fortunately for those who misspeak, most of the general population does the same. But if you want to feel smug and superior this weekend, educate people when they say it incorrectly. English teachers all over the country will thank you.

Energy Savings are Minimal

You like to be kind to the planet and you really like to save money on your electric bill. And there are lots of pundits out there that will extol the virtues of Daylight Saving Time this weekend, telling you you’ll save tons on energy costs. Don’t start counting your extra pennies yet. A 2008 study of homes in Indiana found that Daylight Saving Time actually increased energy usage. (1) In 2008, congress mandated a study that was completed by the U.S. Department of Energy. The study found that Daylight Saving Time saved about .03 percent of electricity consumption over the year. (2) So you probably won’t be saving polar bear habitats by waking up an hour earlier. And you probably won’t notice a difference in your electric bill. But .03 percent is better than nothing.

You’ll Be Healthier…Maybe

The verdict is still out on this one. If you work a traditional nine-to-five job, you’ll have more hours of sunlight after work. Spend that time hiking or cycling or walking around the neighborhood and your body will benefit from both the extra exercise and the extra vitamin D benefits of the sunlight. But… if you spend the time lying out by the pool, you’ll increase your exposure to UV rays and increase your chances of skin cancer.

Daylight Saving Time also messes with your circadian rhythm, especially in the spring. A 2008 study found an increase of heart attacks during the first three weekdays following the spring transition. (3) It might be a good time to cut back on your bacon intake.

Still, people report enjoying more family time in the evening hours thanks to Daylight Saving Time. You have more time to play in the park, have a picnic, fly a kite together. And numerous studies point out the health benefits of strong family relationships, so slather on some sunscreen and go play.

Move Your Clocks Forward… When?

Technically, most of us have our clocks set incorrectly for several hours, since we adjust them forward before going to bed. Daylight Saving Time actually begins at 2:00 am. Who came up with this lame idea? Well, since most of the countries of the world participate, maybe it was the Germans or Brits who screwed things up for us. In any case, unless you work a graveyard shift, it’s not going to matter much. Just don’t forget to change your clock–otherwise you’ll be late for church. Or even worse… Sunday brunch (without bacon, don’t forget).

The Good News for Retailers

For most business owners, the news is good – you’re about to increase your profits. According to Michael Downing, author of “Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time,” people shop more when the sun shines later into the evening. Most retail businesses will benefit, especially those specializing in products specific to outdoor activities such as gardening, recreation and outdoor entertaining. Golf courses and other outdoor venues will also see a profit increase. You might want to consider extending your shop hours until 9:00 or even 9:30 in order to increase sales.

(1) Matthew Kotchen; Laura Grant. “Does Daylight Saving Time Save Energy? Evidence From a Natural Experiment in Indiana.” 2008.
(2) U.S. Department of Energy. DOE Study Report to Congress. 2008.
(3) Imre Janszky; Rickard Ljung. “Shifts to and from daylight saving time and incidence of myocardial infarction.” 2008.