Why do we have Daylight Saving Time?


Many of us cringe when we think we are going to lose an hour of our valuable weekend by “springing forward” this Sunday. I personally do not like losing an hour, but I do enjoy the extra daylight. I thought I would investigate how “Daylight Saving Time” started, the complaints about it and the benefits.

We have Benjamin Franklin to thank for coming up with the original concept. Franklin, who wrote the proverb "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise," was among the first to suggest the idea. In 1784, Franklin was U.S.. ambassador to France, living in Paris, and awoke earlier than usual one morning to see light streaming through his window. He then had an idea that he could make use of the “free sunshine” for many more hours saving on expensive candles. He stated in an essay that is everyone would wake up earlier that could get more done in the daylight and save money on candles. The basic concept of “Daylight Saving Time”, DST, was introduced.

Some historians say that modern DST was first proposed in 1895 by George Vernon Hudson, an entomologist from New Zealand. Hudson presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society that proposed a two-hour shift forward in October and a two-hour shift back in March. He followed up his proposal with an article in 1898, and although there was interest in the idea, it was never followed through.

Timeanddate.com says; “The invention of DST was mainly credited to William Willett in 1905 when he came up with the idea of moving the clocks forward in the summer to take advantage of the daylight in the mornings and the lighter evenings. His proposal suggested moving the clocks 20 minutes forward each of four Sundays in April, and switching them back by the same amount on four Sundays in September. The first Daylight Saving Bill was drafted in 1909 and presented to Parliament several times and examined by a select committee. However, the bill was opposed by many, especially farmers and thus the bill was never made into a law. Willett died in 1915 without getting the chance to see his idea come to life.”

Almost 200 years after Ben Franklin’s essay, the United States adopted the basic plan in an effort to conserve energy during World War I. The practice of changing the clocks has had a somewhat bumpy history in the United States. It was first established in 1918, but then repealed a year later. During World War II, the country again took up the practice to conserve energy from 1942 to 1945. In 1966 the United States officially adopted the Uniform Time Act of 1966, which outlined Daylight Saving Time to begin on the last Sunday of April and end on the last Sunday in October.

According to Timeanddate.com; “The US Congress extended DST to a period of ten months in 1974 and eight months in 1975, in hopes to save energy following the 1973 oil embargo. The trial period showed that DST saved the equivalent in energy of 10,000 barrels of oil each day, but DST still proved to be controversial. Many complained that the dark winter mornings endangered the lives of children going to school. After the energy crisis was over in 1976, the US changed their DST schedule again to begin on the last Sunday in April. DST was amended again to begin on the first Sunday in April in 1987.”

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandated a change to the observed dates so now DST begins at 2 a.m.. on the second Sunday of March and ends at 2 a.m.. on the first Sunday in November.
In fact there are two states, Arizona and Hawaii that do not change their clocks. Also the US insular areas of Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam do not participate in daylight saving.

Do we really save money? Not much. Discovery News at discovery.com says;
“Although a U.S.. Department of Transportation study in the 1970s found that daylight saving trimmed electricity usage by about 1 percent, later studies have shown that the savings is offset by air conditioners running in warmer climates.

One benefit that was found in a study performed in by the RAND Corporation in 2007 discovered that the increase in daylight in spring led to a roughly 10 percent drop in vehicular crashes.”

A recent study found that incidences of heart attacks increased significantly for the first three week days after the transition to daylight saving time in the spring. In contrast, there were fewer incidences of heart attacks after the transition from daylight saving to standard time in the autumn. The study found that the most plausible explanation for the findings is the adverse effect of sleep deprivation on cardiovascular health.The best way to combat this is to go on a walk or run in the evenings to so you may get tired earlier than normal. Slowly go to bed earlier each night leading up to the “spring forward” time change so it is less of a shock to your system.

I know I will make plans to go to sleep a little earlier for the next few nights and for taking advantage of the extra light Look and list the positive advantages to the time change. You can spend more time outdoors in the evenings with you kids, tidying up the yard or just relaxing enjoying the sunset.

Chuck DeBroder, Chief Meteorologist
KTSM, NewsChannel 9, NBC, El Paso, TX
www.twitter.com/ Chuck DeBroder NC9 @wxchuckNC9

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