Springing forward and saving energy | AspenTimes.com

Springing forward and saving energy

Will the Energy Policy Act of 2005 really make a difference?We’ll begin to answer that question this at 2 a.m. Sunday when daylight savings begins, three weeks earlier than it typically does. Two years ago Congress passed a federal law that includes starting daylight savings time three weeks earlier and ending it one week later (Nov. 4). The reason for the change is to save energy by burning less fossil fuel. An extended daylight savings period will do so, Congress reasoned, because Americans will cut their daily electricity use by 1 percent.But Congress may have overlooked regions like ours. Our mornings will be darker. They’ll be colder, too. So we may simply shift our electricity use patterns from the evening to the morning when daylight savings takes effect. Our demand for power will probably swing slightly from one time of day to another, but we’re not convinced that consumers will save $4.4 billion with the switch, as advocates of the Energy Policy Act have claimed.Even so, the earlier time change shows that even a Republican-controlled Congress, in 2005, recognized that small steps can go a long way when it comes to energy conservation. Indeed, this time change may be George W. Bush’s most positive legacy in a two-term presidency marked by horrendous playcalling.Locally, the Aspen Skiing Co. may hear some criticism for not extending its chairlift operations for an extra hour because the days are longer, but the Skico is in a no-win situation. To keep the lifts open might please some skiers, but it would send a mixed message. After all, the company is an industry front-runner when it comes to “green” policies, and those chairlifts consume a lot of electrical power. So in this case, give Skico a break and use that extra hour of daylight to do something else – like switch your smoke alarm batteries or enjoy an evening walk. Though a bit artificial, this time change should feel a bit like an early spring.


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