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Does Daylight Saving Time Save Energy? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Indiana

  • Matthew J. Kotchen
  • Laura E. Grant

The history of Daylight Saving Time (DST) has been long and controversial. Throughout its implementation during World Wars I and II, the oil embargo of the 1970s, consistent practice today, and recent extensions, the primary rationale for DST has always been to promote energy conservation. Nevertheless, there is surprisingly little evidence that DST actually saves energy. This paper takes advantage of a natural experiment in the state of Indiana to provide the first empirical estimates of DST effects on electricity consumption in the United States since the mid-1970s. Focusing on residential electricity demand, we conduct the first-ever study that uses micro-data on households to estimate an overall DST effect. The dataset consists of more than 7 million observations on monthly billing data for the vast majority of households in southern Indiana for three years. Our main finding is that -- contrary to the policy's intent -- DST increases residential electricity demand. Estimates of the overall increase are approximately 1 percent, but we find that the effect is not constant throughout the DST period. DST causes the greatest increase in electricity consumption in the fall, when estimates range between 2 and 4 percent. These findings are consistent with simulation results that point to a tradeoff between reducing demand for lighting and increasing demand for heating and cooling. We estimate a cost of increased electricity bills to Indiana households of $9 million per year. We also estimate social costs of increased pollution emissions that range from $1.7 to $5.5 million per year. Finally, we argue that the effect is likely to be even stronger in other regions of the United States.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14429.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14429.

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Date of creation: Oct 2008
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Publication status: published as Matthew J. Kotchen & Laura E. Grant, 2011. "Does Daylight Saving Time Save Energy? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Indiana," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 1172-1185, 04.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14429
Note: EEE PE
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  1. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," NBER Working Papers 8841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Shimoda, Yoshiyuki & Asahi, Takahiro & Taniguchi, Ayako & Mizuno, Minoru, 2007. "Evaluation of city-scale impact of residential energy conservation measures using the detailed end-use simulation model," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 1617-1633.
  3. Kellogg, Ryan & Wolff, Hendrik, 2008. "Daylight time and energy: Evidence from an Australian experiment," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 207-220, November.
  4. Matthew J. Kotchen & Michael R. Moore & Frank Lupi & Edward S. Rutherford, 2006. "Environmental Constraints on Hydropower: An Ex Post Benefit-Cost Analysis of Dam Relicensing in Michigan," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 82(3), pages 384-403.
  5. Kamstra, M.J. & Kramer, L.A. & Levi, M.D., 1998. "Losing Sleep at the Market: The Daylight-Savings Anomaly," Discussion Papers dp98-04, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
  6. Mark J. Kamstra & Lisa A. Kramer & Maurice D. Levi, 2002. "Losing Sleep at the Market: The Daylight Saving Anomaly: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1257-1263, September.
  7. Peter C. Reiss & Matthew W. White, 2003. "Demand and Pricing in Electricity Markets: Evidence from San Diego During California's Energy Crisis," NBER Working Papers 9986, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Aries, Myriam B.C. & Newsham, Guy R., 2008. "Effect of daylight saving time on lighting energy use: A literature review," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 1858-1866, June.
  9. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Caitlin Knowles Myers & Mark L. Pocock, 2006. "Time Zones as Cues for Coordination: Latitude, Longitude, and Letterman," NBER Working Papers 12350, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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