All About Daylight Savings Time

I once knew a farmer who refused to observe Daylight Saving Time. Ohio is one of the states that adheres to the DST laws, but the farmer flatly refused to move the clocks in his house ahead one hour. Why? Because, he said, his cows were used to being milked at five A.M. every morning. He woke up at four A.M. sharp every morning. And, he declared, there was no way he was going to mess up their- and his- internal clocks.

Daylight Saving Time, (DST), is the practice of adjusting the time in the spring so there are more daylight hours when people are normally awake. In Ohio, people often remember when to adjust their clocks by reciting the phrase, “Spring ahead, Fall back.”

Even though the time change takes effect at 2:00 a.m. so it causes the least amount of confusion, many people, like my farmer friend, don’t like the disruption this practice causes in their lives. So, whose “bright” idea was Daylight Saving Time, and what’s it all about anyway?

Benjamin Franklin was actually the first person that the idea of changing time “dawned on”. But his idea wasn’t taken seriously until a London man named William Willett (1857-1915) authored a piece titled, “Waste of Daylight”, in 1907. Willett’s idea was to move time ahead twenty minutes every Sunday in April. Then, reverse the process to go back to standard time in September. But the British government nixed his idea, and Willett wouldn’t live long enough to see it ever “come to light.”

It was almost a decade later when the German government finally initiated their own Daylight Saving Time during part of World War I. The United Kingdom began their DST in 1916. Then, on March 19, 1918, the United States Government adopted DST until the end of World War I. However, just like today, people disliked the change in the time so much that the law was later abolished.

For the most part, DST wasn’t a law again in the United States through 1966. Some states observed the practice on their own, while others were “left in the dark.” Typically, it was observed from the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in September. Some of the northeastern states extended Daylight Saving Time until the last Sunday in October. This “off and on” observation created a substantial- and confusing- number of times zones in the United States. Until The United States Federal Uniform Time Act of 1966 was put into effect in 1967, that is. The law ordered that Daylight Saving Time would start across the country on the last Sunday of April. It would then remain in effect until the last Sunday of October.

Even though the law covered the entire United States, it included an exemption clause. Any state that did not want to observe DST could pass their own law and be relieved from compliance. The only stipulation was, that the entire state had to abide by the law, not just parts of it. Hawaii and and the territories of Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa don’t utilize DST. Neither does Arizona, with the exception of the Navajo Nation. These territories leave their clocks set on standard time all year around.

Over the years, DST has been changed several more times. The 1973 Energy Crisis forced the U.S. government to start DST in January and February in 1974 and 1975, respectively. Then, President Reagan enacted the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1986. This made Daylight Saving Time start on the first Sunday in April.

As of the year 2006, the United States is scheduled to observe Daylight Saving Time starting on the first Sunday in April. DST will then end on the last Sunday in October. In 2007, DST is scheduled to be changed yet again. It will begin on the second Sunday in March, and end on the first Sunday in November. This change is due to the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
This DST extension is supposed to save the United States “the equivalent of 10,000 barrels of oil per day”. However, those figures were calculated by using Department of Energy information dating back nearly four decades from the 1970’s.

According to reports, if there is not a significant savings in energy from this extended change in time, then Congress has “retained the right to revert back to the daylight saving schedule set in 1986.” The U.S. government cites “energy conservation” as the number one reason to utilize Daylight Saving Time. Other supposed pros include longer daylight hours for outdoor activities, fewer traffic accidents, and lower crime rates.

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