Did you know that Benjamin Franklin first proposed a form of Daylights Savings Time in 1784? However, Daylights Savings Time was not used in the United States until the 1900’s. Currently, on the second Sunday in March we move clocks ‘forward’ an hour (2 AM reset to 3 AM), and on the first Sunday in November we move clocks ‘back’ an hour (2 AM reset to 1 AM). People often say, “spring forward, fall back”. Some reasons behind Daylight Savings Time include: having more daylight available after school and work; and saving energy, since more of our ‘awake’ hours are during the daytime, we do not turn on the lights as much.
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Benjamin Franklin called his approach “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light”. By shifting time to make the most of daylight, people could reduce the number of candles they used. Most thought that Franklin’s proposal was more of a jest than a real proposal.
Many ancient civilizations did not need a form of Daylight Savings because their daily schedules were already pegged to the amount of daylight. They divided the amount of daylight into 12 ‘hours’. So, summer ‘hours’ would be longer than winter ‘hours. Roman water clocks had different scales to account for the different amount of time between summer and winter hours.
In the 1900’s interest in Daylights Savings Time intensified due to World War I and the need to conserve fuel. The United States started a Daylights Savings Plan in March 19, 1918 (Standard Time Act); summer DST started March 31st and ended October 27, this plan was very unpopular and was abolished after the end of the war. However, during World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt instituted year-round DST and called it ‘war time’; this lasted until September 30, 1945.
After 1945 there were no clear rules on Daylights Savings time. Some states used it some did not, some cities did, some did not. It was very confusing. In 1966 the Uniform Time Act mandated standard times within time zones and when times would change for DST. States could abstain from using DST, but the whole state had to adhere to that, with the exception of states that were split between time zones.
During the oil embargo and fuel crisis of 1973 the United States tried another ‘year round’ DST. This started in January 6, 1974 to April 27, 1975.
The times for Daylight Savings Time in the United States has changed twice. In 1986, the start of Daylights Savings Time was moved to the first Sunday in April. In 2007 the start and end times for Daylight Savings Time was changed to what it currently is now.
Not all parts of the United States participate in Daylights Savings Time. Currently, Arizona, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Norther Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands do not follow Daylights Savings Time.
In general, Daylight Savings Time does not have much of an effect for places in very high latitudes or near the equators. In high latitudes the amount of day and night varies so drastically between the seasons that an hour’s change in clock time does not make much of the difference. Near the equator, the change in the amount of daylight between seasons is negligible.
There is a slight different on the impact of Daylights Savings within a time zone. Areas farther east benefit more than those on the western edge of a time zone.
Studies for the ‘energy saving’ aspect of Daylight Savings have not been conclusive. While energy spent on lighting has decreased, energy spent on other activities such as heating and cooling have increased.