It’s that time of year again. It’s time to get an extra hour of sleep and change all of your clocks. This Sunday is the start of Daylight Saving Time 2018. Oh, boy! (Yes, that is sarcasm)
The idea can be traced back to Benjamin Franklin. While he was in Paris he enjoyed playing chess until the wee hours and then he would sleep late. He found that the sun streamed into his bedroom window and woke him much earlier than he liked. In a published letter, he suggested moving the clocks forward so that the effect of the sun was minimized . Some of his generation thought this a fine idea and implemented the practice not realizing not realizing that Franklin was writing in jest.
I lived in Arizona for many years. That state is one of the few places in the US that doesn’t participate in the bi-yearly time manipulation that the rest of us have to endure. I miss that.
We don’t have many clocks anymore that require manual setting though my husband has to get the instruction guide for his watch every time. The car is the biggest challenge and is often left alone. The time is right for half the year.
Modern Daylight Saving Time was conceived as a way to better utilize natural daylight in the summer months by shifting an hour from morning to evening. The problem with the practice is that there were no standard time zones until the early 20th century. Time was set locally prior to that and each community might have a different time than the town down the road. Trying to accommodate the differences in time wreaked havoc on railroad schedules. The railroads had to establish their own standard time zones and did so in 1883.
This still didn’t solve the problem as many areas continued to set their own time. In 1918, Congress passed the Standard Time Act which brought the entire country into line with established time zones. The law was a way to normalize the country and also to help conserve the fuel needed to generate electricity. The savings were needed for the war and was set to begin March 31, 1918.
Daylight Savings Time proved to be unpopular and Congress repealed the law in 1919. Local control over time was re-established.
During WWII, President Roosevelt called for year-round Daylight Saving Time, which was called ‘War Time,’ and it lasted from 1942 t0 1945. Localities took control of time again after the expiration.
Daylight Savings Time was done again in the 1970s and studies during that decade showed that the practice saved energy. In fact, one study done by the Department of Transportation found that DST trimmed electricity use by 1% each day. That was significant then but, as the use of air conditioning in homes increased, the savings decreased.
The practice of saving daylight went through some changes. Most of the time it was just altering the start and end dates. In 2007, the US started what we have now:
Spring forward on the second Sunday in March
Fall back on the first Sunday in November
The second Sunday in March is upon us.