Daylight Saving Time is Coming This Sunday! How Does This Impact Solar?
Alex "Solar Girl" Steele
If you’re reading this, you made it… Through the worst of winter! This coming Sunday, most of the United States will be springing forward in time to welcome in Daylight Saving Time! This ritual of setting our clocks forward by one hour began over 100 years ago, after World War One. The original meaning of Daylight Saving Time (DST) was to conserve fuel by reducing our dependence on electricity to light our homes during the colder, darker months of the year.
The logic was easy to follow: by setting our clocks back an hour in the fall, we all finish our day-to-day routines and head to bed an hour earlier than we normally would, theoretically saving some electricity because we’re spending less time up and working when it’s dark out. Once spring comes around, we set our clocks ahead by an hour to give our workdays more daylight and a longer evening before sunset. The impacts of our efforts have been debated - most research suggests that DST only reduces our total electricity consumption by 0.5-1%. At the same time, it is challenging to determine just how effective DST is on our consumption because even though we are developing more efficient appliances and energy production infrastructure year after year, we are also relying more and more on computers and electronics to help us complete our jobs and daily activities. Whether or not Daylight Saving Time actually helps us save money, one thing is for sure - more sunlight in a day boosts our mood, and gets us excited for warmer weather! Let’s take a look at some interesting facts about DST and talk a little bit about how it impacts your solar energy system, and the solar industry in general.
Did you know that we actually spend more time in Daylight Saving Time than we do in Standard Time? Because we begin DST in March and don’t end it until November, we spend about 50% more time in DST than we do in Standard Time. In fact, some people argue that we should just get rid of Standard Time altogether and switch to DST full time! On the other hand, some states don’t observe DST at all - for example, Arizona and Hawaii skip it!
Solar panels can see an increase in production efficiency during cold winter months, thanks to the albedo effect of sunlight reflecting off snow, and the lower temperatures making it easier for panels to convert light into electricity. That being said, a majority of the power produced by solar panels is generated between late March and late September, meaning DST kicks off the peak photovoltaic production time period! Our hemisphere receives more sunlight during this time of year thanks to changes in the tilt of the Earth as it orbits around the sun, making it prime time for solar energy production.
Another great thing about spring rolling around for the solar industry is sales! Warm weather means canvassers can make their rounds meeting homeowners and pitching solar to them, and people are starting to think about what they can do to check home improvement tasks off their to-do lists. Warm weather means many households will be turning on their air conditioners soon, as well, which will incentivize people to look into their options for shaving down utility costs. Even though solar works perfectly well in Winter, warm and sunny seasons are the best for selling solar. Call it the placebo effect if you will, but we definitely notice a boom when the snow starts melting!
We’re so glad you made it through the bitter cold and dark days of Winter, and that you’re ringing in Daylight Saving Time with us! If you haven’t looked into putting solar on your property yet, this could be your moment. Give us a call today to learn how we can slash your utility expenses and outfit your property with a money-saving asset for decades to come!
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