Pull the plug on daylight savings? Researcher says it increases electricity
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Pull the plug on daylight savings? Researcher says it increases electricity


It turns out the key reason for daylight savings is having the opposite effect in Alberta, says a University of Calgary PhD candidate.

According to C.D. Howe Institute Fellow in Residence Blake Shaffer, energy use goes up about 1.5 per cent during the time period, whereas it goes down in Ontario, according to his co-researcher.

As Shaffer points out, the original goal of DST when it was first implemented was to reduce energy use, but for multiple factors, that isn’t happening here.

“Albertans are at least anecdotally earlier risers,” he said, noting census data which shows Albertans wake up and leave for work about 20 minutes earlier than those in Ontario.

That coupled with the sun rising later creates the discrepancy.

“Put together that means when we shift forward one hour in the morning, it’s more likely that Albertans are going to be awake and darkened by that transition, whereas our friends back in Toronto are more likely to have that transition when they’re asleep,” he said. “We have a much bigger cost borne on us in the morning.”

There has been political push in the province to look at getting rid of daylight savings, such as NDP MLA Thomas Dang having public consultations and PC MLA Richard Starke presenting a petition.

Shaffer said if the debate was completely about energy, it would make sense.

But he points out there are other benefits.

“Is that benefit of saving energy worth giving up the benefit of more light in the evening that provides retail benefits, with more people out doing retail activity, more recreation activity and the health benefits associated with that,” he said. “We really need to be thinking about that tradeoff between energy at health.”

Shaffer admits he’s been a little surprised by the amount of attention his findings have garnered in Alberta.

“Perhaps (because of) a more agrarian lifestyle here in the prairies then some of the other provinces,” he said.

To see Shaffer’s findings, click here