Love it or hate it, daylight saving time (DST) is probably here to stay. Sure, Florida, New England and other regions may pass legislation that brings their clock-switching to an end, while Arizona and Hawaii already keep the same time all year round, but the rest of the country will continue to change the time twice a year.
After a cold (and dark) winter, those of us in daylight saving zones will be glad to “spring forward” an hour come March 11 at 2:00 a.m. From that point forward, the days will grow increasingly longer, we’ll spend more time outdoors and everything will just feel better (once we recover from that lost hour of sleep, of course).
But, will daylight saving time cost us money? Some studies and experts seem to say that yes, daylight saving time can be costly. Here's how.
In theory, daylight saving time should help keep energy bills down. After all, with longer days (meaning more sunlight), we should theoretically keep our lights off longer. All that sun could also lead you to spend more time outdoors, so there's lower usage of other types of energy inside.
But Scientific American reported daylight saving time doesn’t make a positive impact on energy usage. When Indiana instituted DST statewide in 2006 (apparently only certain areas were doing it previously), scientists analyzed data to find the impact the time change had. They found a 1% energy usage increase statewide after DST was implemented — costing the state an extra $9 million — likely due to the demand for air conditioning on summer evenings and heating in early spring and late fall mornings.
Enjoying the sunshine
A 2016 JPMorgan report noted that, at the onset of daylight saving time, consumer spending can increase on purchases such as dining out and groceries.
According to their report, there was a 0.9% increase in daily spending per capita when DST happened in the spring. However, a notable decrease of 3.5% in consumer spending was also recorded at the end of daylight saving time in November.
What does this mean? Having more daylight each day may cause you to stop by the store more often or go out for drinks after work to enjoy the nice weather. However, the opposite is also true when daylight saving time ends because it is likely darker when you leave the office, so you head home instead of go out.
While increased energy usage and more discretionary spending can absolutely result from daylight saving time, there’s a final implication to consider – and it’s a sinister one. According to various studies over the years, several health conditions including strokes and heart attacks become more prevalent after daylight saving time starts in the spring due to how changing clocks affects sleep patterns and overall health.
In fact, one study found a 25% increase in reported heart attacks on the Monday following the spring daylight saving time compared to other Mondays throughout the year. And the hospital bills and followup doctor visits can certainly put a strain on your wallet (which, of course, can be lessened with health insurance), not to mention the financial effect missed work can have on you and other family members.
And it just goes to show how that extra sleep is beneficial — When we get that extra hour back in the fall, researchers saw a 21% decrease in heart attacks on the following Monday.
It's important to note that the other weeks didn't see as much of a notable change. Researchers said this could be because those already on the path to having a heart attack were hit harder by the strain caused by the time change.
Now that you're aware of these three potential financial drains, you can prepare. Get extra sleep, follow your budget and be mindful of your energy usage.
Have you felt a financial strain due to the time change? Let us know in the comments.