May 30, 2001 11:00 pm

Make daylight savings

time permanent

If the country is really serious about saving energy, Congress needs to take a look at moving to daylight savings time permanently. More hours of daylight could result in significant savings of electricity. Until Congress acts, states should take up the issue themselves.

Massachusetts is considering such a change. Not only are advocates of the change making note of the potential for energy savings, but some see it as a way to undo what has become a burden on peoples internal clocks twice yearly time changes.

Daylight savings time originally was conceived as a way to save energy during World War I. But only during crises has it been extended to more than six months during World War II and the 1973 Arab oil embargo. If extending daylight savings time was good enough during those years to produce noticeable savings, why shouldnt it be today? And why shouldnt it be on a permanent basis?

The drawback, of course, is trading morning daylight hours for evening daylight hours. But with children leaving for school and adults leaving for work in the morning, households would not require the same amount of energy that they do when they have to turn on the lights and crank up the heat when they get home at 5 in the afternoon. Safety concerns could be addressed by adjusting school and work hours


Best of all, we wouldnt have to fiddle with resetting the clocks on all the electronic gadgets weve acquired. Imagine the frustrations not to mention energy and money that could be eased by simply making daylight saving time a nationwide standard.

Do it to save money

As long as were on the subject of saving energy, we should ask ourselves what weve changed in our lives to make our households more energy efficient. What we do now can impact the amount of energy we consume and the bills we pay when the hot weather hits this summer and when the cold weather arrives in the winter.

For starters, consider:

Ceiling fans, which can make a room feel about seven degrees cooler without air conditioning by circulating the air. They use less electricity than a 100-watt light bulb. And when used with air conditioning, they can cut energy usage by as much as 40 percent.

Converting to energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs. Fifty-watt fluorescents provide the same amount of light as 300-watt halogens. And they do so by consuming less electricity while lasting years longer.

Switching to more energy-efficient models of major appliances. Doing so, energy experts say, can have the biggest impact on our bills.

We can make an impact on our energy usage and consequently the bills we have to pay. Even something as simple as hanging clothes out to dry this summer can put a dent in the utility bill.

If we consume less, we pay less.