The Power of Daylight

Daylight Saving Time: The process of winding back the clock to better reflect the hours in which sunlight makes the use of powered light sources unnecessary. The practice started in World War I as an effort to conserve valuable coal required for the war effort, and was reintroduced in World War II.

The practice was never popular in the US. It was viewed as a necessary measure for wartime, but with no justification in peace time.

However, the 1973 OPEC oil embargo prompted a two-year period of daylight savings during which the US Department of Transportation conducted a more thorough study of its benefits.

They found that it conserved 10,000 barrels of oil per day in March and April, and statistics even indicated a reduction in crime and traffic accidents.

It seems intuitive to suppose that making the most of daylight results in conservation of energy, but this study illustrated just how beneficial it can be.

Conserving Energy

Today, energy conservation is a preeminent issue, as evidenced by the push for renewable energy sources and more energy-efficient methods of conducting business and industry. Energy and carbon taxes provide businesses with incentives to promote energy conservation, as they will feel the financial ramifications of using excess energy.

In light of this, the role that building design plays in conserving energy is receiving greater attention. Buildings are being designed to maximise sunlight to better illuminate the work space, which results in conservation of energy that would otherwise have been required for electric lighting.

One way this can be achieved is by incorporating more windows and skylights into building design, and ensuring they are well positioned to provide maximum illumination. According to the US Department of Energy, this can cut the use of electrical lighting by around 75% – 80%.

Sunlight is, after all, free. Unlike electric lights which rack up costs based on usage, skylights help to channel a free source of light, meaning that the only costs will be for installation and maintenance. This once-off fee can result in significant cost-savings in heat and energy usage.

There are other less obvious ways in which skylights contribute to energy conservation. Eighty per cent of the power generated by electric lights is converted into heat. A building that uses skylights significantly reduces heat generation, resulting in less energy required to power air conditioning.

Making Industry Aware of the Benefits

Industrial areas, factories, and warehouses often leave electric lights running constantly due to the poor visibility in certain parts of the building, even during daylight hours.

A large part of the issue arises from the fact that production facilities are designed with electric lighting in mind, and that has been the case ever since Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. As a result, about 5% of electricity usage in the USA goes towards powering the lights to illuminate commercial and industrial sites.

As with most things, it takes a while for people to adapt to new technological advancements, but the industrial sector needs to be made aware of the financial and environmental benefits of energy conservation benefits before they’ll have the incentive to change old habits.

Motivation to do so will be even greater when they realize what benefits daylighting has to offer, not just in the areas of energy conservation and cost-cutting, but in productivity as well. Studies have shown that people work more efficiently and more productively when they are exposed to sunlight.

The Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado found that daylighting increase productivity and reduce absenteeism by about 15%.

So, sunlight serves to power the work effort in more ways than one, increasing human energy at the same time as it conserves electrical energy.

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License: Royalty Free or iStock


Matthew Flax advocates eco-friendly living so that we can all lessen our carbon footprint, something which is even more important in business and industry. You can benefit from energy saving skylights from Gauteng manufacturers.