Yesterday, most of us got en extra hour of time as we turned our clocks back an hour for the end of Daylight Saving Time. Originally suggested by Benjamin Franklin, though not put into effect until World War I, Daylight Saving Time could be considered one of the world’s earliest eco-friendly actions: The change in time would help people reduce their reliance on artificial light at night, therefore saving coal and other resources.
To me, the time change simply seems like an annoying adjustment that happens twice a year, throwing my kids’ sleep schedules out of whack and forcing me to pull out my car manuals to figure out how to change the dashboard clock (I will admit that some years, we just suffer with the wrong time until the time changes back!). So in an effort to actually appreciate Daylight Saving Time — and to find out if it really does save energy today — I thought I’d do some digging on Daylight Saving Time. Here are 7 of the most interesting facts and tips I came across:
- During World War II, Daylight Saving Time was observed year-round for more than 3 years, in an effort to conserve fuel.
- In 2007, the U.S. Government added a month to Daylight Saving Time as part of the 2005 Energy Act, moving its start time up from April to March, and its end time to the first weekend in November. In addition to saving energy, the new November date was intended to help protect children on Halloween, hoping that the later sunset would reduce the number of trick-or-treaters who get hit by cars.
- Daylight Saving Time doesn’t necessarily save energy. An article in the Christian Science Monitor cited a 2010 study that found that in Indiana, Daylight Saving Time actually caused a 1 percent increase in electricity, because the time change caused people to increase their heating and air conditioning usage.
- During the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, some parts of Australia extended Daylight Saving Time. A study of power usage during that time showed that although energy consumption was reduced in the evenings, usage increased in the mornings, which negated any energy savings.
- Even animals can have trouble adjusting to the time change, according to a Live Science article. Pets are accustomed to be fed at a certain time, and farm animals also have a routine — for instance, a cow gets milked at a certain hour each day. A livestock researcher suggested altering animals’ schedules by a few minutes each day to get them used to the new schedule.
- Certain parts of the U.S. and its territories — including but not limited to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa — do not observe Daylight Saving Time. States are not required to participate in Daylight Saving Time; Arizona’s government chooses to keep year-round standard time because of its high temperatures.
- A group is proposing to end Daylight Saving Time altogether. Their suggestion involves combining time zones into only 2 time zones, with a 2-hour difference. Their argument is that this would make it easier for people who are traveling between states or doing business with people in other parts of the country. They also cite research that shows that the concept does not actually save energy.