Daylight Savings Time

Blog by Kirian McClure

Daylight Savings Time is a controversial concept to say the least.  Most folks recognize it as the twice a year act of remembering to move our clocks forward an hour on March 11th and back again on November 4th.

But where did it come from and why do we have it at all?

To find the origin we need to go back several hundred years, to when Benjamin Franklin was living in Paris as an ambassador to France, years after drafting and signing the declaration of independence. Franklin was fascinated by the problem of ill-spent resources and lost time, he knew that if people rose earlier and went to bed earlier that the energy costs of lighting and heat would be much easier to digest. However, the solution to such an issue eluded him until the outbreak of World War I some 150 years later.

In an attempt to conserve coal usage by cutting down on hours of artificial lighting, Germany became the first country to implement mass-scale time changes. The United States was right  behind in 1918 when a handful of states chose to opt-in. A renewed need for resource rationing in World War II led to the U.S. government making it mandatory year-round until the war’s conclusion, when daylight savings time observance again became optional. Today only Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Marianas Islands choose not to participate in daylight savings time.

Does changing your clocks actually make a difference?

The answer is a definite yes. But whether that difference is a good or bad one really depends on where you live. According to a 2008 report by the U.S. Department of Energy, regions like the South actually consume more energy under daylight savings time due to the prevalence of air-conditioning, whereas the North sees a slight reduction with its generally more mild climate. There is also some evidence that daylight savings time can be disruptive to our internal circadian body clocks, which are tied to sunlight-darkness adjustments and can’t properly utilize an “extra” hour of light.

The verdict is still as clear as mud so unless we hear otherwise, make sure to set your clocks back on November 4th!

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