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Daylight saving time: What is it? Why do we use it?

Daylight Saving Time: What Is It? Why Do We Use It?

Daylight Saving Time is entered and exited by those two little hiccups in our schedules that come in late winter when we move our clocks ahead one hour and in the fall when we move them back one hour. Where did this idea come from and why do we use it? Let’s find out.

What’s the Point of Daylight Saving Time?

Different sources on the topic give different reasons for why a society would implement Daylight Saving Time. In general, the idea is to move the most productive hours of the day to coincide with the hours of daylight. If we have natural light further into our evenings, we don’t need to use as much artificial light to illuminate our tasks, so there is conservation of energy to consider. And since most people work something close to the 9-to-5 schedule, or have to deal with those who do, having natural light further into the summer evenings allows for more daytime leisure activities once our working day is done.

Where Did the Idea of Daylight Saving Time Come From?

The idea of modifying a society’s daily schedule based on when the sun set and rose has existed in one form or another since ancient times. The formalized version that we know today, Daylight Saving Time, finds its genesis in an essay by Benjamin Franklin written in 1784 during his stay in Paris while serving as Minister to France. His essay entitled “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light”, didn’t suggest changing the clocks, but rather changing everyone’s schedule. The net effect was the same, though.

The United States first implemented Daylight Saving Time during the First World War in an effort to conserve fuel so it could be routed to the war effort. The law, An Act to preserve daylight and provide standard time for the United States was put into effect on March 19, 1918. It was an unpopular law, though, and was repealed after 7 months, becoming optional, and was implemented by only a few states and cities.

Daylight Saving Time Through the Years

March 19, 1918 Daylight Saving Time was first implemented in the United States. The following is a list of the permutations this “standard” went through over the years:

From February 9, 1942 to September 30, 1945 Daylight Saving Time was implemented year round during the Second World War.

From 1945 to 1966 there was no implementation of this standard at all, and communities were free to make their own decisions how, or whether, to implement Daylight Saving Time. This obviously caused a great deal of confusion.

The Uniform Time Act of 1966, signed into law on April 12, 1966 by President Lyndon Johnson, created Daylight Saving Time to begin on the last Sunday of April and to end on the last Sunday of October.

On January 4, 1974, President Nixon signed the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act of 1973.

On October 5, 1974, congress amended the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act, and Standard Time returned on October 27, 1974.

The Federal law was amended in 1986 to begin Daylight Saving Time on the first Sunday in April.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. beginning in 2007.

And this is just in the United States! Daylight Saving Time is implemented differently (or not at all) across the globe.

When Does Daylight Saving Time Start and End?

Daylight Saving Time shifts our schedules twice a year, once when it starts and once when it ends. It has varied throughout its history and may vary in the future. There are some who would like to do away with it permanently. But for most people in the United States, Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March and ends at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of November.