By: Isabelle Huang
It's the time of the year again when you’re lying in bed wide awake at 10:30 p.m. but you know it's actually 9:30 p.m. Did someone mess with the clock? Nope, no one adjusted the time and you’re not delusional. It’s only “Spring Forward” and we lose one hour of sleep. To me, Springing Forward, also known as Daylight Saving (DST) never really made sense. It always messes up my sleep schedule and makes me feel exhausted for days due to the time change. So, why do we switch time? When did it start? Why does it exist? And most importantly, is it really necessary?
As it turns out, there is an age-old myth that Daylight Saving was for farmers who needed extra time with the sun to work in the fields and grow their crops. However, the real reason why dozens of countries follow Daylight Saving (DST) was actually created to reduce the electricity usage by extending the daylight hours. By doing so, people wouldn’t need to turn on their lights as often since the day provided enough lighting. For example, during the summer months, the sun is up for longer periods of time so people wouldn’t have to rely on their lights. Instead, they use sunlight as an energy source. And during the winter months, the clock reverts back or “Fall Back” to the standard time so the sun could rise earlier.
The US started adopting the DST in 2007 but the concept of Daylight Saving is much older, dating back to 1784. It was debated on who first thought of the DST. But according to a letter, Benjamin Franklin was the first person to mention it during 1784 when he wrote the letter to the editor of Journal of Paris. Although the DST time system has been around for a while, it wasn’t really used until a century later during World War I. Countries like Great Britain and Germany started using this system, aiming to cut unnecessary lighting use so troops could conserve fuel for the war. In 1966, The Uniform Time Act was established to set the system of uniform DST throughout the US. DST starts on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November with the time changes occurring at 2:00 a.m. local time. Presently, DST is not followed universally. In fact, only 70 countries around the world “save daylight” every year.
There is no definitive answer on whether DST actually works. A study found in 2008 stated that by extending DST from April-October to March-November saved 0.5 percent in total electricity daily. Despite the minimal impact of energy saving on a daily basis, the total amount of electricity used in a year still makes a difference. However, another study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that DST increases the demand for electricity because the need for heating and cooling increases, so the overall electricity consumption is about the same. It’s still debatable whether “saving daylight” is an efficient way of saving energy, and there are still more studies to be done for us to learn and figure out the real benefits of DST.
Now that you learn about how DST came about and why it exists, do you think it is necessary to follow the system? In my opinion, I think we should stop observing DST because studies have shown that DST doesn’t really conserve energy. In addition, it creates unnecessary stress and anxiety due to the change in sleep schedule which affects other activities. And the biggest hassle of all is remembering to change the time on the clocks. Whether you support DST or not, just make sure you change your clock when the time comes so you don’t miss your first class on Monday morning!
CNN | November, 2020 | Why and When the US started changing the clock | Retrieved from: https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/01/us/daylight-saving-time-how-it-started-trnd/index.html
Wikipedia | Daylight Saving time in the United States | Retrieved from: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daylight_saving_time_in_the_United_States
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