Don’t forget to set your clocks. Daylight saving time – that’s right, no ‘s’ at the end of “saving” – begins Sunday, ending standard time.
But why do we fall back each November and spring forward in March? Do we still need to do it? Let’s turn back the clocks to look at the origins of daylight saving time and then spring forward to see if we still need it.
The idea of daylight saving time dates back centuries. Before it, many countries ran on solar time, which relies on the position of the sun in the sky. Most people blame Ben Franklin for inventing daylight saving time, but it was actually a New Zealand entomologist named George Hudson who officially came up with the concept in 1895. The Founding Father is often considered the creator because of a satirical essay he wrote in a French journal in 1784. According to The Franklin Institute, his piece, “An Economical Project,” argues for the benefits of daylight hours, saying it would make Parisians more money.
Daylight saving time wasn’t introduced until Germany implemented it during World War I. The Germans thought having more daylight hours would help conserve energy. Other European countries and the United States soon adopted it as well. After the war, the practice fizzled out until it was implemented again during World War II to save fuel and resources.
Individual U.S. states continued to observe daylight saving time, but there was no standardization about when it would start and end until Congress passed the Uniform Time Act in 1966. The schedule was updated in 2007 when we received an extra four weeks of daylight saving time thanks to the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
Today, about 70 countries observe daylight saving time. Domestically, 48 states recognize it, but Hawaii, most of Arizona, and U.S. Territories like Puerto Rico and Guam do not.
So, should we still schedule our lives around daylight saving time?
Proponents have argued daylight saving time saves energy. During the eight months we implement it, we get an hour more of sunshine in the evenings, which means we use less power. Studies have also shown that when it is lighter out longer, people spend more time outside. They also spend more money, which is good for the economy.
The U.S. Department of Transportation also claims that there is less crime during daylight saving time. The agency also says it prevents traffic injuries – an argument opponents disagree with.
These opponents cite studies that say there are actually more accidents, heart attacks, and other health problems in the days after standard time begins or ends. People also report feeling disoriented and unproductive. Challengers also doubt that we save any energy, or if we do it is negligible.
It’s possible more states will join Hawaii and Arizona in opting out of the Uniform Time Act. But this week, Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott as well as Rep. Vern Buchanan reintroduced the Sunshine Protection Act, which wants to implement Daylight Saving Time all year.
Whatever your feelings are about the time change, at 2 a.m. this Sunday our clocks spring forward to 3 a.m. So say hello to daylight saving time, until our clocks fall back to standard time in November.