updated 4/22/2005 12:18:40 PM ET 2005-04-22T16:18:40

When people go through the ritual of moving their clocks forward each spring ushering in daylight-saving time, they’re also saving energy by using more sunlight instead of electricity in the evenings — the equivalent of thousands of barrels of oil, in fact.

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Congress says a good thing can be made better.

And while lawmakers may not agree on drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge or raising automobile fuel economy, they came together Thursday — without a word of complaint — to extend DST by two months for those parts of the nation that observe it.

The House, in approving a massive energy bill that covers more than 1,000 pages, would extend daylight saving to the first Sunday in March and to the last Sunday in November. It now starts in early April and ends in late October.

The Senate must agree — and it is likely to do so.

“We all just feel sunnier after we set the clocks ahead,” said Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who along with Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., got the measure into the energy bill.

Upton said extending daylight time “makes sense especially with skyrocketing energy costs” even though farmers for years have not been all that happy about daylight time as it now exists. They complain the later daylight in the morning makes it harder for them to do their work.

There was no such grumbling from farm-state lawmakers about the Markey-Upton provision.

Other critics of earlier attempts to extend DST have been parents concerned about their children going to school in the dark. However, the bill wouldn't extend DST to the darkest months of the year.

100,000 barrels a day in savings
And, according to Upton, the energy benefits are staggering.

Citing Transportation Department figures, he said the additional two months could save the equivalent of 100,000 barrels of oil each day, or 1 percent of the nation’s total energy consumption.

“And that’s using consumption figures from the 1970s. The actual savings should be even higher,” Upton said.

Markey said both sport fans and kilowatt counters ought to be happy.

“In addition to the benefits of energy savings,” he said, it means “less crime, fewer traffic fatalities, more recreation time and increased economic activity. Daylight saving just bring a smile to everybody’s face.”

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