Why do we have Daylight Saving Time?

March 11, 2016: This weekend is part 1 of our semiannual tradition of flipping the clocks ahead or back as part of Daylight Saving Time.  In this case, we “spring ahead” as Daylight Saving Time begins. We’ll be in Daylight Saving Time until November 1, when clocks will be “falling back” one hour.

2013_Daylight_Saving_Starts_Clock_USA

This is usually done at 2 am on the 2nd Sunday of March (which is this Sunday), when we move our clocks ahead to 3 am, though you can always do that before you go to bed Saturday night (or when you get up Sunday, just don’t forget!).  It’s not a bad idea either to replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, then test them to make sure they work.

So why do we do this every year? It boils down to energy usage.  The thought behind daylight saving is that by adjusting the clocks for the summer, you could take advantage of the “longer” evenings and not have to use electric lighting, etc. for a longer period.  This practice was first used in widespread fashion during the world wars to help conserve precious materials and fuel for the war effort. The US first used daylight saving time in World War 1, then stopped the practice until World War 2, when clocks were put ahead for an hour during the duration of the war.  After the war, daylight saving time wasn’t enforced, but some places still used it. From 1945 to 1966, there was a lot of confusion, as you could go from place to place and sometimes be changing your watch constantly!  In 1967, daylight saving time became the law of the land.

The practice remains controversial, however. We may save a little on energy usage with not having to turn on the lights earlier in the evening, and certain business and events like afternoon and evening sports benefit from the longer evenings.  However, we may be using our air conditioning and such more during the evenings while we are awake to stay cool, so energy savings may very little.

Daylight saving time is still in practice for the foreseeable future, so again, don’t forget to move the clocks ahead an hour on Sunday!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 11, 2016

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