Why Daylight Saving Time?

Apparently the official spelling is Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight SavingS Time. (I’ve been saying it wrong – oops!) I was curious to learn about the origins of DST, since we are “springing forward” today, and thought I would share.

Most of the United States begins DST at 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday in March and reverts to standard time on the first Sunday in November. In the US, DST is not observed in Hawaii or Arizona. Since the daylight hours are similar during every season in tropical areas, there is no advantage to moving clocks forward during the summer. As for Arizona, the reasoning behind why they don’t follow DST is due to the heat. To properly start night-time activities, the sun needs to go down in order for it to cool off before 9pm. Most parts of the US like to enjoy long summer evenings. This is why DST is also referred to as “Summer Time”.

The idea of daylight saving was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin in 1784, in his essay, “An Economical Project.” But the idea was first seriously advocated by London builder William Willett (1857-1915) in the pamphlet, “Waste of Daylight”. The plan was not formally adopted in the U.S. until 1918.

Some arguments in favor of DST include energy savings. Some studies show how DST reduces the entire country’s electricity usage by a small, but significant amount. Less electricity is used for lighting and appliances because of the time change. Some even argue there is a public health benefit to DST, claiming that it decreases traffic accidents. There may also be an economic benefit to DST; as daylight evening hours encourage people to go out and shop, they potentially stimulate economic growth. But there have also been studies disproving these theories as well.

There are just as many complaints about DST as there are praises. Many have to do with the inconvenience of changing many clocks and adjusting to a new sleep schedule. Protests also come from those who wake up at dawn, or those whose schedules are tied to sunrise, such as farmers. This was funny to read because I always thought that daylight saving time helped the farmers.

Whether DST is making efficient use of our daylight is up for debate. Even though losing an hour today was not fun, I do love the long summer evenings.

Sources: http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/ and http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/state/why-arizona-doesn%27t-observe-daylight-saving-time

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