As many of us struggle with waking up in the dark this week, a new study shows that the energy savings of daylight saving time doesn’t apply to Alberta.
Blake Shaffer is a PhD candidate at the University of Calgary. He looked at power grid numbers between 2000 and 2015 and found that Alberta’s energy use actually goes up by 1.6 per cent at the time of the March time change and by 0.9 per cent over the eight month duration of DST.
“If we stop switching forward to daylight saving time, if we just stayed on standard time year-round, we would see an energy savings benefit in Alberta of about 1 per cent for the eight months of the year we are on daylight saving time,” Schaffer said.
In Ontario, energy consumption does go down by about the same amount.
Schaffer said power usage goes up in Alberta because of two reasons. One is that Albertans tend to wake up about 20 minutes earlier and Alberta’s northerly location means the sunrises later in Alberta in March than in Ontario.
“Do we want to stop making the switch? A lot of people want to stop making the switch. Many people find it annoying, especially those of us with kids, but studies have shown that it’s costly. Traffic fatalities increase as a result of the changing sleep patterns. Incidence of heart attacks increase,” Schaffer said.
But if we do away with the time change, there is the question of whether Alberta should adopt Mountain Time or Central Time.
”At the end of the day which way we switch to is really going to come down to a debate between morning people and evening people,” said Schaffer.
NDP MLA Thomas Dang has been canvassing people and groups for six months on whether the province should abandon daylight saving time. He says he’ll introduce a private member’s bill once the results show what the public wants.
But one of the men behind the push to bring daylight saving time to Alberta isn’t impressed with the idea of abolishing it.
Bill Creighton said the time change is important for allowing Albertans to enjoy long summer evenings.
“All outdoor activities, not just sports but family gatherings and we have such short summers,” Creighton said.
Creighton said feeling a bit sleepy over the next few days is a small price to pay for enjoying a long stretch of after-work sunshine.
“You might feel a little bit tired tonight or tomorrow but how many hours does that last? Let’s face it, we’re constantly losing hours of sleep for one reason or another,” Creighton said.