The summer time has been around 100 years, but many studies suggest that a time switch does not save energy, as previously thought.
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WASHINGTON – Late late for work or just missing this bus? You could have a good excuse: Due to a change in the federal energy regulations, some scientists claim that your old clock plug-in can lose or gain a few clicks over time.

The electric clocks keep time according to the usually stable and precise pulses of the electric current which supplies them. In the United States, it's 60 hertz (cycles per second). In the past, regulators required electricity companies to immediately correct the rate if it had lost the mark. But this accuracy is expensive to maintain, so last year, the correction part was quietly eliminated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Energy officials insist that d & # 39; Other standards will retain control of time. problem has not exceeded more than a few seconds here and there. But some scientists have looked at what could happen without the time-correcting rule, and clocks could break down gradually if grid power was delivered consistently at frequencies above or below 60 hertz. This can happen when the demand for energy increases or slows down due to weather conditions and the grid can not adjust right away.

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This would affect clocks powered by a wall outlet, such as alarm clocks and microwaves. coffee makers. Mobile phones, new clocks with GPS, those connected to cable TV and modern not resting on the grid are not affected, according to experts.

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The changes might be just second questions and anything but imperceptible, but the weather could drift up to seven and a half minutes between the time changes in March and November, when people reset their clocks According to a study conducted by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the US Naval Observatory

In some extreme cases, Americans might miss their bus, some parts of them TV shows and even be a little late or, shudder, at work. Demetrios Matsakis, co-author of the study and chief scientist of the naval observatory

"They will think that something is wrong with their clock but they will not know what," said Matsakis, co-author. of the study.

The Old Time Removal Request The correction rule comes from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), which coordinates the network. NERC Director of Standards Howard Gugel said the new standards prevent turning from 60 hertz, so the rule is not necessary. NERC has guidelines on what to do if time corrections are needed, he said in an email

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Without the rule, corrections will still be made but possibly not be right now, said Terry Bilke. for the Indiana-based Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which provides power to 15 states and Manitoba

Earlier this year, in the eastern half of the country, a mistake in time of 10 seconds too fast has not been corrected for a week. or more. That's during a cold snap and utilities did not think it was wise to tinker with power levels, said Bill Leonard of the system operator for the New England. In general, time errors are spread every three to five days in the eastern United States, he said.

An advocate for rule change stated that concerns about delay were unjustified. Don Badley, a recently retired systems operations manager at Northwest Power Pool Corporation, said persistent mistakes would be corrected when people reset their clocks twice a year.

Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter @borenbears. His work can be found here.

Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Department of Science Education of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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