Nebraska State Sen. Ken Schilz, from Ogallala, has become something of a personal hero to me — and not just because Ogallala is fun to say. Schilz introduced LB 101, a bill that would eliminate daylight saving time in Nebraska.
“Hallelujah!” I cheered. I was ready to marry Sen. Schilz. I was preparing to praise Nebraska for its forward-thinking attitude. I was already planning on not “springing up” this year.
And then, last week, my dreams were shattered. The state legislature took no action on LB 101 and declared it indefinitely postponed.
In crafting LB 101, Schilz cited the health and well-being of children and others who are affected negatively by DST or who require a strict schedule, such as diabetics. Furthermore, evidence shows that the severity of auto accidents increases and work productivity decreases as people try to adjust to the time change.
Schilz received criticism from Nebraskans who said that we have more important things to make laws for than DST. Maybe, but I think this is an important issue to those of us who have sensitive sleep cycles and spend a month in misery trying to adapt to the time change.
Moreover, the original reasons for implementing DST no longer apply. If you believe that DST started to give farmers an extra hour to work their fields, then you’ll be surprised to learn that farmers don’t like DST; they can’t start working the fields earlier than standard time because they have to wait for the sun to dry the dew on their crops.
One of the strongest reasons that DST proponents cite is reduced energy use in the evening. However, if there is reduced energy use in the evening, no one’s been able to prove it definitively; in fact, some studies even suggest an increase in energy use in the evening in southern states and states where the weather is hotter, requiring increased use of air conditioners.
In addition, 70 percent of Americans have to get up before the sun rises during DST, so they’re actually using more energy during that time, negating some of the savings that an extra hour of sunlight in the evening may bring. Overall, studies have declared the savings that result from daylight saving time to be “insignificant.”
Regarding energy savings, consider this finding after Indiana fully switched to DST in 2005:
“The argument in favor of saving energy swayed Indiana, where until 2005, only about 16 percent of counties observed daylight saving time. Based on the DOT study, advocates of Indiana DST estimated that the state’s residents would save over $7 million in electricity costs each year. Now that Indiana has made the switch, however, researchers have found the opposite to be the case. ... They found that Indianans actually spent $8.6 million more each year because of daylight saving time, and increased emissions came with a social cost of between $1.6 million and $5.3 million per year. Commentators have theorized that the energy jump is due to the increased prevalence of home air conditioning over the past 40 years, in that more daylight toward the end of a summer’s day means that people are more likely to use their air conditioners when they come home from work.”
As you can see, not only is this antiquated practice one that disrupts our sleep cycle, but it’s doing so for no good reason and may actually be costing us more in energy use and costs.
So, dear Sen Schilz: Please keep trying to kill DST in Nebraska. You’re my hero.