Wed, 06 Aug 2003

On daylight saving

Helen Lok's letter Daylight savings in the Aug. 4 edition of The Jakarta Post made the classical mistake of imagining electricity can be saved by putting the clocks forward. In fact, the lights will be switched on when it gets dark and they will go off when the sun comes up, or when people go to bed, irrespective of what time that is.

Simply stated, the number of hours during which the lights are on is unaffected by clocks. The reason clocks are put forward during the summer in some countries is to allow people to finish work "earlier", thus providing more daylight hours in the early evening for leisure activities; it is not done to save electricity.

But Helen need not fret about this minor oversight. When Australia first introduced daylight saving many years ago howls of protest were heard from citizens concerned it might hasten the rate of curtains fading!