Have you ever wondered why Daylight Saving Time exists? Or whether the time change actually benefits anyone? Who invented it and why? Below are ten facts to tell you everything you need to know about the bi-annual time change.
History of Daylight Saving Time
- Benjamin Franklin first proposed the idea of adjusting one’s sleep schedule as a way to save candles and maximize daylight hours, although he did not suggest actually changing the time. Franklin was being satirical, but many people took him seriously and thus he is credited with being the inventor of DST.
- The first person to seriously advocate for DST was British builder William Willet, who lobbied Parliament to adjust the time in April and September. However, Germany is the first recorded country to actually implement DST as we know it (by officially changing the time). They did so April 30, 1916 as a way to save fuel during WWI. Britain followed suit a few weeks later.
- Many people believe DST started as a way to help farmers, but actually many farmers disliked it. It left less time in the morning for milking cows and other chores, and it gave them less time to get products to market. Some farmers still oppose it today.
- The Uniform Time Act of 1966 set specific days in the spring and fall when the U.S. would observe Daylight Saving Time. Before that, the country had periods of observing DST around WWI and WWII, as well as periods when it did not observe DST. As if the time change wasn’t confusing enough, sometimes parts of the country would adopt the time change and others would not!
- DST in the U.S. used to start on the last Sunday of October, but candy companies lobbied to change this. In 2007, the U.S. pushed DST back until after Halloween so kids would have more time for trick-or-treating.
- Hawaii and Arizona don’t practice DST. Other states, such as Maine and Massachusetts, have considered scrapping the practice, and many American territories like Guam and Puerto Rico don’t observe it. This isn’t surprising considering that 70% of Americans dislike the time change.
- Internationally, only about 40% of countries practice DST, and not all countries make the change at the same time. For example, the U.S. changes its clocks the first Sunday of November, but Brazil changes its clocks on the third Saturday in October and Israel changes on the last Sunday in October.
What Is The Impact Of Daylight Saving Time?
- Americans might be right to dislike DST because it has a measurable impact on our health. Multiple studies have found that people are at an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and susceptibility to illness immediately after the time change. It may also impact fertility and increase the chance of miscarriage.
- On a positive note, DST is linked to a decrease in crime. One 2015 study found a 7% drop in robberies following the time change. However, assaults increase by around 3% in the fall when the clocks “fall back.”
Does Daylight Saving Time Save Energy?
- One argument for DST has been that it saves energy. In fact, President George W. Bush’sEnergy Policy Act of 2005 extended DST by four weeks for this very reason. However, recent studies suggest it actually uses more energy in some parts of the country because of changes in heating and cooling in homes. However, Congress claims it saves 0.5 percent of the nation’s electricity per day, or 1.3 trillion watt-hours in total. It’s possible that the effects of DST on energy usage vary across the nation because of differences in climate.
This coming Sunday is Daylight Saving Time, so don’t forget to move your analog clocks forward!
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