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Energy conservation benefit will require public education

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

Daylight-saving time starts three weeks early and ends a week later this year as part of a national energy conservation effort.

Beginning this Sunday at 2 a.m., daylight-saving will now begin the second Sunday in March and end the first Sunday in November, adding four weeks of late sunsets to the calendar. Local energy experts say the Truckee-Tahoe area could see some conservation benefits, but don’t expect big changes in power bills.

“When you have an extra hour of sun at night people will use less lighting, and maybe even less heating,” said Scott Terrell, conservation administrator for the Truckee Donner Public Utility District.

According to the California Energy Commission, 25 percent of all the electricity used in an average home is from small appliances, such as TVs, VCRs and stereos, and a large portion of that consumption occurs during evening hours when families are home.

And starting daylight-saving time early will cut into that evening use.

Terrell said in addition to the energy benefit with lighting and electrical appliances, the Truckee-Tahoe area could reap some heating benefits in the evening.

“One of the great things about our climate is passive solar heating using the greenhouse effect,” Terrell said. “The reason Truckee (and Tahoe) are special is one, it’s cold and we like free heat; and two, we have so many cloudless days that we get the sunlight for passive solar heating.”

Local energy expert Robert Mowris, of Robert Mowris and Associates said the energy savings won’t be automatic, and will require public education.

While people will leave their household lights off longer with later sunlight, exterior lights on timers may not get switched, he said.

“For example, Squaw Valley for night skiing turns the lights on before dark, so if they turned their lights on two hours later that would save quite a bit of energy,” Mowris said.


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