Turning Clocks Back
Every year, we all go through the ritual of turning our clocks back an hour. We're often reminded to "Spring Forward" and "Fall Back." But why? Obviously, nothing actually changes. The sun still rises and sets, so why do we need to change our timekeeping?
First, I want to point out that the idea of Daylight Saving Time was first introduced, like many great ideas, by Benjamin Franklin. He went to Paris and while there, proposed the idea as a purely economic benefit. Franklin was really looking at the (then) agrarian economy in the United States, and found that many people during the harvest season would benefit from the added time in the day. It took some time, but eventually, after the establishment of "Standard Time" in Great Britain, DST was adopted. It was inconsistently applied even within the U.S. Indiana, for example, had 17 counties that decided not to utilize DST until 2005, when the state passed a law forcing everyone to observe it.
One main reason for DST this is the most obvious one: we get to use more daylight when there is more available. Folks that live near the equator always have almost equal amounts of daylight year round. But here in Michigan, as we enter into Fall, the amount of available daylight becomes more scarce. A recent poll found that the majority of Americans enjoy Daylight Saving Time, and an almost identical number do not like when it ends.
Another reason for DST is that it saves energy. In 1975, the U.S. Department of Transportation found that the actual energy savings during DST is about 1% per citizen. This is mainly due to less electricity being used in the evening to light homes and offices.
Some of the peculiar facts surrounding DST that I find interesting are:
- The 2:00 A.M. rule: DST changes always occur at 2:00 A.M. in the United States. Why? To minimize disruption.
- The actual term is Daylight Saving Time, Not Daylight SavingS Time.
- Not everyone participates. Even in the U.S., Arizona and Hawaii do not observe the changes.
- The original date for ending DST was earlier in October. However, in 2007, in response to a study that found pedestrian deaths were 4x higher on Halloween, the date was changed to the first Sunday in November.
So as we bid farewell to the longer days, we also set our clocks back an hour to reflect this change. Luckily, our smartphones and computers have this programmed in for us. But if you're still using an old fashioned alarm clock, be sure to set it back so you aren't late for work on Monday!