Three-day weekend could reduce energy use by 20%, say economists
- Two economists argue that if Americans followed Europe’s approach to work and climate change, they could reduce energy use by 20% with a three-day weekend, reports Quartz.
- David Rosnick and Mark Weisbro contend that a longer weekend correlates with less energy consumption and, in turn, lower carbon emissions for cleaner air.
- A three-day weekend — or four-day workweek — means less time using office lighting, air conditioning and other implements like computers, printers and office equipment. Utah had a three-day weekend for state agencies and saved $1.8 million in energy costs during the first 10 months of the program.
Three-day weekends, or four-day weeks, can cut down energy consumption in the workplace, but could also increase energy use outside the office with more workers at home on Fridays.
Shorter workweeks mean longer workdays. Extending the traditional eight-hour workday to 10 hours can create health problems, such as stress and fatigue, and may increase the risk of work-related accidents. Tired workers are inclined to be less productive and less engaged in the workplace.
On the other hand, employers in Japan made a few headlines by opting to shorten employees' time in the office to four days, but for a completely different reason: Work-life balance. The changes were also aimed at allowing employees to better provide childcare and eldercare for their families.
Utah ended its three-day weekend program, Quartz said, when the public complained about being unable to access state agency services on Fridays. Employers considering the move to a four-day workweek, whether to save energy or give employees work flexibility, might want to weigh the advantages against the consequences.