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Daylight savings time

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By Emily Stifler Managing Editor

This year, daylight savings time ended at 2 a.m. on Sunday Nov. 4.

The practice, also called ‘daylight saving time’, dates back to the late 19th century, with most of the U.S. still turning clocks an hour ahead in the spring, and an hour back in the fall. Why do we continue to do this? Does it actually save energy?

The idea is credited to several people, including Benjamin Franklin and New Zealander George Vernon Hudson. In Franklin’s satirical 1784
essay “The Economic Project,” he said with his
old age and love for late-night chess games,
the morning summer sun woke him too
early. Near the end of a term as an American
delegate in Paris, the 78 year-old Franklin
proposed moving clocks an hour forward to save
Parisians “an immense sum” of candle wax. In
jest, he also suggested a tax on window shutters
and a legal rationing of candles.

According to the U.S Naval Observatory, the
railroads established standard time and time
zones in the U.S. and Canada in 1883. Standard
time became U.S. law under the Act of March 19,
1918, also called the Standard Time Act. This
also established daylight saving time, which was
a controversial idea at the time.

In 1919, Congress repealed daylight time, but
left standard time as the status quo. Daylight
time, which was observed regionally, went back
into national use during World War II. The Uniform
Time Act of 1966 again appointed new dates
for the clock change. Then during the
1970s energy crisis, with efficiency in mind, Congress
changed daylight savings dates for two years.

In 1974, DST began in January and in 1975 it
began in February. The dates moved again in the
mid-80s. Since 2007, by order of the Congress’s
Energy Policy Act of 2005, DST in the U.S. has
begun on the second Sunday in March and ended
on the first Sunday in November.

Daylight savings benefits retail business and
sports, but can be problematic for farmers and
evening entertainment businesses.

Winston Churchill, a proponent of daylight savings time, claimed it helped grow “opportunities for the pursuit of health and happiness.”

Its energy-saving benefits are also mixed. In the South, where it causes more people to turn on the air conditioning after work in summer, it’s less of a boon.

The U.S. Department of Energy told Congress in an October 2008 report that extended daylight savings time saved 1.3 terawatt hours of electricity, reducing annual U.S. electricity consumption by 0.03 percent.

Many countries
follow a similar summer clock change, but
they don’t all observe the same dates as the
U.S. Countries near the equator typically don’t change clocks, as their days remain the same
length yearlong. Hawaii and most of Arizona do not observe daylight
savings time.

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