In a unanimous vote last week, the Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act, which would permanently extend DST to 12 months from eight months, USA Today reported. The bill was first introduced in Jan. 2021 and then reintroduced last March by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and seven other members of Congress.
If approved, the bill will make daylight savings time permanent across the United States beginning in 2023. It still needs House approval before President Joe Biden can sign it into law.
While backers of the bill tout the economic benefits of making Daylight Saving Time (DST) permanent, some of those benefits are perhaps overstated. An analysis by PNC, a financial lending service for small businesses, found that two of the perceived economic benefits — reduced energy use and more daylight hours for consumers to spend money — are not what they’re cracked up to be.
PNC cited a study from Yale University showing that residential energy consumption in Indiana actually increased by as much as 4 percent after DST went into effect in 2006. Researchers discovered that the decreased need for electrical lighting was offset by higher demand for heating and cooling power.
Another analysis, from PNC economist Kurt Rankin, found that very few businesses get a sales boost from later shopping and spending hours during daylight savings time. Among the businesses that do benefit are those that specialize in outdoor recreation, such as golf courses; those that sell and repair barbecue equipment; and those that sell gasoline, due to the fact that more people drive when it is light outside.
For everyone else, the impact is minimal.
The biggest benefit is that people will no longer need to change their clocks twice a year — something that has been proven to have a negative impact on mental and physical health, sleeping patterns, mental focus and productivity.
Turning clocks an hour ahead, which happens in the spring, can have a particularly negative effect. Most Americans lose 40 minutes of sleep in the spring when the clocks change, Quartz reported. This can reportedly lead to lost productivity at work in the days that follow.