Daylight saving time ends this weekend, but is it a useful practice? On November 3, we recover that hour we lost in the Spring. Yay! We can all do with that extra hour of sleep, right?
Daylight saving time was introduced by founding father Benjamin Franklin, who famously said, “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Remember learning that in school?
According to David Prerau, author of the book Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time, Franklin came up with the idea when he was the US ambassador in France.
He woke up at 6 am one day and realized that the sun rose far earlier than he usually did.
“Franklin seriously realized it would be beneficial to make better use of daylight, but he didn’t really know how to implement it,” Prerau said.
During World War One, Germany was the first nation to implement the practice to reduce artificial lighting and save coal for the war effort, according to National Georgraphic.
In the US, the practice started in 1918, after a federal law was passed that established the beginning and end of daylight saving time, but not all states were required to follow the law.
However, during the second World War, the government made the law mandatory for all as a way to save resources for the war effort.
Since World War Two, daylight saving time has been optional and the beginning and ending of it has shifted many times.
During the Arab oil embargo of 1973-1974, the practice was once again mandatory and the country saw a one percent reduction in electrical use, according to studies cited by Prerau.
In 2005, the Energy Policy Act was enacted, mandating a month-long extension of daylight saving time starting in 2007.
Recent studies suggest that changing the time twice a year is more harmful than useful and doesn’t actually save energy.
As an example, a study by economist Hendrick Wolff of the University of Michigan conducted during the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, when some parts of the country followed daylight saving time while others didn’t, showed a reduction of electrical use in the evenings for areas that did.
However, the savings were offset by higher consumption in the dark mornings.
According to Prerau’s book, most people are fond of the long standing process of changing time, whether there is a benefit or not.
“I think the first day of daylight saving time is really like the first day of spring for a lot of people,” Prerau says. “It’s the first time that they have some time after work to make use of the springtime weather.”
Don’t forget, daylight saving time ends this Saturday, November 3 at 2 am and you must move the clock back. Enjoy the extra hour of sleep.