On Sunday November 1st at 2:00AM the clocks will be turned back one hour and come Monday, your morning commute will be brighter. Though turning your clocks back one hour may seem simple enough, daylight saving time (DST) has actually had a very complex history. Consider a few of the following daylight saving time facts as you set your clock back this year.
- It’s called “daylight saving time,” not “daylight savings time.”
Many people are guilty of pluralizing the second word in this phrase, however this is not grammatically correct. Since the word “saving” acts as part of an adjective, not a verb, the singular form is correct.
- Benjamin Franklin did not invent the concept.
In 1784, when he was unhappily awoken by the rising sun, the founding father penned a satirical essay which concluded that a sleep schedule coinciding with the sun would save a lot of money on candles and lamp oil. By capitalizing on “the economy of using sunshine instead of candles,” he argued that Parisians could save the modern day equivalent of $200 million! However, Franklin never proposed changing the clocks to fit this schedule as some erroneously believe.
- William Willett was the first man to campaign for daylight saving time.
In 1907, when the Englishman was on an early-morning horseback ride around the outskirts of London, he had an epiphany. Willett concluded that turning the clocks back 80 minutes would give the English people more time for outdoor recreation which in turn would be good for their health. He felt so strongly about this concept that he created the pamphlet, “The Waste of Daylight” which he brought to British Parliament every year until his death in 1915. He never saw his ideas realized.
- World War I led to the adoption of daylight saving time.
It took a war for Willett’s idea to come to fruition and it was realized just one year after his death. On April 30, 1916, Germany became the first country to adopt daylight saving time. Conservation of electricity was the priority and just three weeks later, the United Kingdom followed suit and adopted “summer time.”
- Farmers in the United States fought to repeal the 1918 adoption of daylight saving time and won.
Farmers were deeply opposed to daylight saving time when it was adopted as a wartime measure in 1918. Because the sun had always dictated agrarian schedules, the clock changes were very disruptive. Farmers were forced to wait an hour for dew to evaporate before morning harvests could begin and cows were not ready to be milked an hour early to coincide with earlier shipping schedules yet hired workers still left at the same time for dinner each evening. In 1919, agrarian interests won out and Congress voted to override President Woodrow Wilson’s veto, effectively repealing daylight saving time.
- It was not until 1966 that the United States had consistent clock schedules.
After the 1919 repeal, cities such as New York and Chicago decided to keep daylight saving time and localities stopped and started their clocks whenever they pleased. Aside from World War II, where daylight saving time was a national mandate, the United States was running on a variety of conflicting times throughout most of the 20th century. At one point, Iowa maintained 23 different pairs of start and stop times! Luckily, this confusion came to an end in 1966, when President Lyndon B. Johnson enacted the Uniform Time Act. Under this act consistent daylight savings parameters were established from the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October, though states can exempt themselves.
- President George W. Bush extended daylight saving time in through the Energy Policy Act.
Beginning in 2007, daylight saving time was extended from the second Sunday in March to the second Sunday in November. This change is still effective today.
- About 70 countries around the world observe daylight saving time.
Though neither China nor Japan change their clocks and most equatorial countries have no need for the custom, about 70 countries worldwide use DST. Within the United States, only Hawaii, most of Arizona, and some Amish communities do not observe daylight saving time. Additionally, the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa do not observe the custom.
- Daylight saving time was created in order to save energy however these savings can be disputed.
One might assume that lighter evenings would lead to reduced electrical demand. However, studies indicate that the change in demand is negligible. Moreover, some studies indicate reduced lighting demands in the evening are simply offset by increased energy consumption in the morning and increased air conditioning needs during that extra warm, light hour. When Indiana switched to statewide daylight savings time in 2006, researchers were able to study this concept and noted that some counties even saw increased energy consumption.
In conclusion, despite daylight savings’ varied historical attempts at energy savings, this custom is not a surefire way to reduce energy consumption, especially in areas with air conditioning needs. If you hope to save energy this season, consider energy efficient technologies instead. LED bulbs and lighting controls can easily achieve sought-after energy savings. While you shop, consider using the Bulbs.com savings calculator to help visualize your future savings.