Daylight Saving Time 2018: When and Why?

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Ah, the time of Spring is almost upon us, which means longer days, more sunlight, and a lost hour of sleep. Daylight Saving is just around the corner, beginning on March 11 at 2 am. While most cell phones, computers, and smart devices will automatically make the change, other devices like your bedside clock may not, so be prepared to change them or risk waking up late.

energyThis strange practice is almost a century-old, which is centered around making better use of the day’s light by moving an hour of daylight from the morning into the evening. We change the clocks twice a year, with the first occurrence happening on the second Sunday of March, then ending on the first Sunday of November, where we regain that hour of sleep that is so horribly taken from us. The idea of Daylight Saving Time first came from George Hudson in 1895, who believed that there must be a way to make better use of the day’s light by shifting the clocks around in order to have longer days. Contrary to popular belief, Benjamin Franklin did not come up with the idea of Daylight Saving Time. He did however come up with a similar notion of saving daylight time, but his ideas were not put into effect.

The first time the United States adopted the practice was in 1918 during World War I. After the German Empire implemented a similar version with their people, the United States did so as well as a strategic measure to conserve fuel during the war. Many people believe that Daylight Saving Time was implemented as a tool for farmers, but that is also a myth. In fact, in the early days of Daylight Saving Time, farmers were the most outspoken group against the practice, saying that it could disrupt farming practices. In 1973, President Nixon signed the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act, which permanently cemented the practice in the United States. This helped alleviate some of the confusion that was present when some regions of the country decided to opt-out of the practice.

Not all states practice Daylight Saving Time, with Hawaii and Arizona deciding not to change the clocks. Massachusetts and Maine are both considering leaving the practice behind, but have not yet finalized it yet.

So does Daylight Saving Time actually conserve energy? Well, no, not really. A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy showed that the practice only saved about 0.5 percent in electricity use per day and only about 0.3 percent over the whole year. A study conducted by researchers at the University of California – Santa Barbara found that energy usage during this time of the year actually might increase. This hasn’t stopped Congress from passing further legislation on the practice, with the 2005 Energy Policy Act extending Daylight Saving Time by a month.

This strange practice is often looked on by Americans as silly and pointless, with most people just irritated at the idea of losing an hour of sleep. There still are 78 countries that observe Daylight Saving Time, including Russia, China, Japan, India, and part of Europe.

Avid writer and reader with a curious mind. I'm always looking to get the most out of life! Follow me on Twitter @whatsaschoon

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