I have always had trouble remembering if you lost or gained an hour of sleep when observing daylight savings time. I can recall my mother telling me that in the spring you “spring forward” and in the fall you “fall backward,” but I never really understood why we follow daylight savings time and what purpose it served.
This year, daylight savings time in the United States starts on March 10th and continues until November 3rd. You will, in fact, lose an hour of sleep to this tradition, unless you are in Arizona or Hawaii, which do not honor the custom — and perhaps rightly so, as the potential savings opportunities that led to the creation of daylight savings time may no longer apply.
Why Daylight Savings Was Created
Although daylight savings has been discussed as far back as the late 1700s, it was not implemented in the United States until World War I. Originally, daylight savings time was used to provide more daylight in the evening hours and reduce the use of electricity.
There have also been thoughts that using daylight savings time makes people happier because they are in daylight more and not commuting home in darkness. It is also considered a way to boost retail sales, since the hypothesis is that shoppers will visit more stores and spend more money during daylight hours.
Not Everyone Follows Daylight Savings Time
There have been quite a few criticisms of daylight savings time over the years, and a vast majority of the world no longer observes the custom of changing the clocks back and forth to give provide more light. Most of Asia and South America no longer observe daylight savings time, and a good portion of the continent of Africa never has. Now it is primarily only conducted in North America and Europe.
There has also been a mix of emotions in the United States as to which states will follow daylight savings time and which will not. There are states such as Hawaii and Florida, as well as territories like Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, that are so far south that there is almost no need for additional daylight.
Does Daylight Savings Save Money on Energy?
Most scholars think that daylight savings time has little to no effect on the population, their work habits, happiness, spending habits or ability to save money on energy. There have been several studies conducted by the U.S. government that suggest daylight savings time saves less than 1 percent of the country’s electricity usage when it is observed.
Daylight savings time has also been criticized as helping certain segments of the economy, while harming others. For example, farmers have complained that the increase in daylight results in higher labor costs, shifting work schedules and disruption to animals’ schedules, among other issues.
Conversely, other industries, such as golfing, greatly benefit from more daylight hours. There is no conclusive answer as to how much overall benefit citizens receive from daylight savings time.
People no longer manage their days based according to the rising and setting of the sun. More people are becoming ambivalent as to whether it is night or day when they are completing daily tasks, and because of this, many have come to view daylight savings time as a reminder of an era gone by and a tradition with not much of a practical use anymore.