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Daylight Saving Time or Daylight Savings Time

Updated on February 26, 2015

Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Savings Time  is a sure sign spring is coming
Daylight Savings Time is a sure sign spring is coming | Source

Daylight Saving Time and Benjamin Franklin

Across the United States, on the second Sunday in March, nearly everyone in North America changes their clocks to give more hours of daylight during the evening hours instead of in the morning.

Daylight Saving Time was first thought of by Ben Franklin. His idea was not to adjust the clocks, but to just get people to wake up earlier. In 1784, Franklin was in Paris and saw that people tended to sleep while the sun was out in the early mornings of summer. The people would be up later and burn more candles for light in the night. He thought it would be more efficient to wake up earlier while it was light and burn less candles in the evening. Ben Franklin didn’t come up with the actual idea of daylight saving time because he just wanted people to wake up before dawn.

Franklin tried hard to change people’s habits by proposing these regulations in an article titled “The Economical Project”:

  • A tax on every window that was built with shutters because they kept the light from the sun out.

  • Ration candles to one pound per family per week

  • Stop coaches on the streets after sunset, except for doctors

  • Ring church bells and if necessary cannons to inform the population that it is light outside.

Franklin believed the first couple of days would be the hardest, after that waking for the sun will become natural and regular. People will rise earlier and go to bed earlier.

On November 30, 1785, Cadet de Vaux reprinted Franklin’s article, but the idea still did not catch on.

Ben Franklin and Daylight Saving Time

Benjamin Franklin wanted people to save candles and energy by waking up earlier and using the daylight hours.
Benjamin Franklin wanted people to save candles and energy by waking up earlier and using the daylight hours. | Source

The History of Daylight Saving Time

William Willet, who lived just outside of London had the idea in 1905, to move the clocks forward, which would force people to wake up at a time closer to sunrise. Willet, at the time, was a well known designer and home builder. He wanted more time to golf in the evening. To create popularity for the idea of summer daylight savings, he published a pamphlet called “The Waste of Daylight”. He was never able to convince the British to change their clocks.

In 1883, the railroad industry created official standard time zones across the United States. Standard time across the country is set by the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington D.C. through the atomic clocks they maintain. The observatory has nothing to do with Daylight Savings Time.

Along comes World War I, and the German decided Daylight Saving Time was a good way to save energy. England followed right after Germany, and then most countries on both sides of the war started Daylight Saving Time also.

In 1918, Congress signed the railroad time zone system into law. With this same act, Congress put Daylight Savings Time into effect, but the law was repealed the next year. This was because most of people’s work involved agriculture, making them wake up earlier, and very few people went out later in the evening. Several states such as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island continued using Daylight Saving Time.

Daylight Saving Time Causes Confusion

After World War II, the U.S. referred to the time change as Wartime. It was observed all year long from 1942 to 1945. From 1946 to 1966 there were no federal guidelines for daylight saving time. Each state observed it, or didn’t observe it. The municipalities were able to choose daylight time if they wanted to.

Daylight Saving Time was first initiated in 1918, right after World War I started to save money during the war. It was repealed seven months later. After World War II, the U.S. went into a year round Daylight Savings Time from February 9, 1942, until September 30, 1945. Over the next 20 years individual states, cities, and towns were free to observe Daylight Savings Time whenever they wanted to start it and end it. This caused a lot of confusion across the land.

In the early 1960s, observing Daylight Saving Time was very inconsistent among the states. Indoor and outdoor theaters disagreed about standardizing the time change in the whole country. Farmers opposed it, and different local governments had their opinions. The Committee for Time Uniformity surveyed the country through questioning telephone operators as to the local time observances, and what the government co concluded was that everything about this was confusing. On a 35 mile stretch of the Route 2 highway between Moundsville, West Virginia and Steubenville, Ohio there were 7 time changes. In 1965 there were 23 different start and end time change dates in the state of Iowa alone. The city of St. Paul in Minnesota began Daylight Saving Time two weeks earlier than its sister city, Minneapolis.

The committee decided to gain support of the general public by running a supportive story on the front page of the New York Times newspaper. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 ended the confusion by establishing one time pattern across the nation.

Does the Whole World Observe Daylight Saving Time

The history of daylight savings time is very interesting
The history of daylight savings time is very interesting | Source

Does the Whole World Observe Daylight Saving Time?

Beginning in 1966, the Interstate Commerce Commission was the agency that oversaw Daylight Savings Time. The reason a transportation agency is in charge of the laws of time zones dates back to the heyday of the railroads in the early 19th century, since this was the only federal regulatory agency in existence, so Congress gave this commission authority over time zones. As railroads started to travel across the country, it became more necessary to standardize time to facilitate the publication of railroad schedules.

By 1966, it became a hardship for tv networks, airlines, bus companies, railways, and other businesses who had to stick to strict time schedules, when there were different rules for different states. Congress in 1966, passed the Uniform Time Act, specifying Daylight Saving Time would begin on the last Sunday in April, and end on the last Sunday in October. States could still exempt themselves from this law.

In 1966, the U.S. Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, making Daylight Savings Time starting the last Sunday in April through the last Sunday in October, when the clocks would be turned back to observe the area standard time.

There was no law that any locale must observe Daylight Savings Time, but if an area did, they were required to use the starting and ending times dictated by Congress. A 1972 amendment to the law gave the option to areas in separate time zones, but the locales contained in the same state did not have to observe Daylight Savings Time.

By 1973, President Richard Nixon signed the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Conservation Act, which put Daylight Saving Time year round for a 15 month period from January 1974 to April 1975. The time change caused many complaints about the difficulty of dark winter mornings for school children.

In 1986, the law was amended so that Daylight Saving Time would start on the first Sunday in April and end the same, on the last Sunday in October.

In August 2005, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act, which changed the start of Daylight Saving Time beginning in 2007 to the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November. This was done to help solve the country’s energy problems. The United States Dept of Transportation oversees time changes.

From 1986 through 2006, Daylight Savings Time was observed from the first Sunday in April until the last Sunday in October. From 2007 through the present, Daylight Savings Time starts on the second Sunday in March at 2 a.m. until the first Sunday in November 2 a.m.

There are about 70 countries around the world that observe daylight saving time. Some of these countries refer to daylight saving time as summertime. Japan and China do not observe the time change.

Daylight Saving Time

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Daylight Savings Time or Daylight Saving Time?

There are still several states and U.S. territories that do not change the clock:

  • Arizona

  • Hawaii

  • Puerto Rico

  • America Samoa

  • the Virgin Islands

  • Guam

  • Northern Marianas

Little facts about Daylight Saving Time:

  • It is Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight Savings Time. . Daylight time does not add more daylight so it is not like a savings account. It does give more usable hours of daylight, so we are saving more light for us to use during the day.

  • Farmers don’t benefit from Daylight Saving Time. Farmers rise by the sun, but with daylight time, they had to wait an extra hour for dew to evaporate to harvest hay. The hired hands worked less since dinner was still served at the same time. Additionally the cows were not ready to be milked an hour earlier in order to meet the shipping schedules.

  • Only about ¼ of the world’s population observe daylight time. Countries that are closest to the equator don’t have much variation in their seasons, and have little need to change from standard time.

  • Daylight Savings Time increases the daylight hours in the evening so that less energy is needed for lights, etc. Daylight Savings Time does not benefit farmers who end up working in the early morning darkness. But statistics show the savings is only about 1% in energy costs.

  • The idea of Daylight Savings Time is to adjust the light to when the majority of people are awake.

There are advantages to Daylight Savings Time besides the energy savings including allowing more outside play time for kids, and more people stay out later, spending more money because of the longer daylight hours.

People with Seasonal Affective Disorder do not necessarily benefit when we move the clocks forward. That is because it is thought that morning light is important for people with this depression.


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    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I hate Daylight Savings Time. Pick on and stick with it. split the difference. The info on Ben Franklin was very interesting. Now I know why he said "early to bed and early to rise..." voted up.

    • Anne Harrison profile image

      Anne Harrison 2 years ago from Australia

      An interesting hub. Here in Australia some states observe DST, others do not, which make it a nightmare for all those towns on the boarder! For someone who normally gets up early, I always look forward to it ending so I'm not getting up in the dark (yet I love the long evenings - pity I can't have it both ways!)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Interesting history about something I have never liked. I couldn't even give you a solid reason for the dislike....I just know I grumble twice a year when we have to change the clocks. LOL