Just had a thought: How much energy could be saved if everyone got up at sunrise? Perhaps it would have a counteractive effect somehow but my thought is that if you're up less during hours that it's dark you wouldn't need to have your lights on during those hours.

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    Maybe it would make more difference if we all went to bed at sunset! – andy256 May 19 '15 at 3:19
  • Yeah, how many people these days get up long before sunrise? – Earthliŋ May 19 '15 at 11:33
  • How many people would use significantly less lighting if they get up at sunrise? I don't get a lot of light in my home's north-facing windows, so I use the lights even when I get up well after sunrise. Not that lighting is a big consumer of electricity, my lights are mostly 11W LED's, so if have 5 lamps on for 4 hours a day to make up for getting up before sunrise, that's 20KWh/year, about .8% of my total household power usage. – Johnny May 19 '15 at 20:14
  • Difficult to say as it so much depend on the activities an individual performs. Maybe we even experience a rebound effect of people getting up earlier but sleeping less and spending the time on consumption of energy and materials (food, goods, services)? – orschiro May 20 '15 at 9:10
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    Much of renewable energy (hydropower, wind power) is generated without paying attention to the time of day, so sustainability-wise any Watt that you can use in the early morning so that you don't have to use it during peak time is a way to reduce the load on peak time electricity, which is often generated with fossil fuels. (This only applies to areas, where the electricity grid contains some "renewable electricity".) – Earthliŋ May 28 '15 at 20:27

The best analogy for this is the use of daylight savings time, where in effect people wake up one hour early than they usually do.

A study by the US Department of Transport in 1975 (see page 4 of the website),

showed that Daylight Saving Time trims the entire country's electricity usage by a small but significant amount, about one percent each day, because less electricity is used for lighting and appliances.

Although a 1976 report by the National Bureau of Standards disputed the 1975 U.S. Department of Transportation study, and found that DST-related energy savings were insignificant.

A more recent report, referenced by the California Energy Commission states,

The study concluded that both Winter Daylight Saving Time and Summer-season Double Daylight SavingTime (DDST) would probably save marginal amounts of electricity - around 3,400 megawatt-hours (MWh) a day in winter (one-half of one percent of winter electricity use - 0.5%) and around 1,500 MWh a day during the summer season (one-fifth of one percent of summer-season use - 0.20%).

So the energy savings would be small.

Edit: Additional data on potential energy usage & savings from Daylight Savings

Thanks for @Stempie for the additional data.

According to the Initiative Neue Marktwirtschaft (Initiative New Market Economy) [German language], by way of example, in 2010 Germany used 600 - 650 TWh of electricity.

An average nuclear plant produces about 1.4 - 1.5 GW, which is 11 TWh/year. An over average bituminous coal plant produces about 1.7 - 2 GW, 12 - 14 TWh/year.

So this means, 0.5% of the total German energy consumption in 2010 was about 3 TWh was slightly more than a quarter the output of either a large coal plant or a nuclear plant.

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    If you would add the math from my answer, I'd delete mine and would call youes "perfect answer" ;-) – Sempie Jun 29 '15 at 11:11

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