It is something we usually dread in the spring, that night when we lose one hour of sleep. But after a week when the sun is shining an hour longer at night we know summer is almost here! Daylight Saving Time was invented to make better use of sunlight. This slight adjustment takes the daylight that was in the morning and adds it on to the nighttime. For example if the sun rose at 6 am it now rises at 7 am and the sun which had set at 6 PM now sets at 7 PM. So what is the purpose of changing our clocks? What is the history?
Ironically enough it dates back to Benjamin Franklin in 1784 in an essay called "The Environmental Factor". He wrote about the same technique that still applies to changing the time nowadays- gaining an extra hour at night when most people can be outside since the weather is warmer during the summer hours. The idea of "Daylight Saving Time" was first purposed by George Vernon Hudson in 1895. It was introduced in the United States during World War I in order to save energy for war production and save on fuel. Since then it has been inconsistent in the United States. In 2005 the Energy Policy Act changed the dates that we set our clocks to run from the second Sunday of March to the first Sunday of November, hence adding four more weeks.
The hour that we gain at night theoretically offsets the hour in the morning when people could be sleeping and hence using less electricity. Studies have gathered that 25% of electricity is used for lightning and small appliances such as TV's and DVD players. This was normally observed when people were at home and inside during the dark evening hours. On the other hand, 70% of Americans rise before 7:00 am using more energy in the morning. Energy experts still believe that the energy used by early risers is still less than the extra energy that would be used at night when families would have to be home because of the early sunset. Another positive factor that has been noted with Daylight Saving Time is a decrease in traffic/pedestrian fatalities from accidents.
There is still a big debate whether or not it actually helps us save energy and more studies need to be done to accurately make an argument either way. For now we just need to remember to Fall Back and Spring Forward. One side note, it is actually "Daylight Saving Time" not "Savings" like most people say it.
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