Daylight Savings Time starts at 2AM Sunday March 10 in the United States. This is the one where we lose an hour of sleep in exchange for a spring and summer’s worth of extra sunlight in the evenings.
Lots of us believe Daylight Savings started as a way to give farmers more time to take care of their crops. Farmers don’t really need a clock to tell them how and when to do that, though.In reality, farmers used to be the strongest opponents of Daylight Savings Time. That opposition has mostly fallen away.
A type of Daylight Savings Time was first proposed in 1784 by Benjamin Franklin to help people save money on candles. Ben’s idea was a little different, and quite a bit more jarring than our one night with a lost hour of sleep. Rather than changing clocks, Ben Franklin proposed waking everyone in the community up an hour early by firing cannons!
Even after moving beyond candles, there was something about that whole “savings” thing that made a lot of sense to some people in power. If the Sun was up longer it was rational that people would use less energy from gas and electricity.
Energy conservation became necessary during World War I, and the government made Daylight Savings Time mandatory. it was repealed less than a year later.
It wasn’t until 1966, when Congress passed the Uniform Time Act that most places within the U.S. started consistently springing forward and falling back.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended Daylight Savings Time in the U.S. beginning in 2007, but Arizona, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico still do not observe it.
Surveys show that most Americans support Daylight Savings Time because they enjoy the extra daylight in the summer for doing things outside with their families. Studies about whether or not the time change provides any actual energy savings vary.
Some studies find we save enough energy to justify all the clock changing. Others have found Daylight Savings Time to increase energy consumption.
Either way, tonight is the night to set your clocks forward by one hour and long for the day when it’s all automatic, like on our phones.