There is no need to remember a function - its simply copy and paste. You wont make a new template every day.
And of course you know: a small number of chars doesnt make the code faster.
If you need these functions in your template - why dont you put it into your template code?
No module will need it, no other templates, its only for your template.
And - by the way: What about timebased output? Not only the sections, even modules themself can have whatever-based output. Some modules have an empty view.php (they only do something in the backend)
The only way to find out if there is any output, is to generate the output und THEN check, if there is any content.