The Science Behind Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time takes effect at 2:00 a.m. in order to minimize disruption.
Daylight Saving Time takes effect at 2:00 a.m. in order to minimize disruption.

Spring forward, fall back…wait a minute, how does that go? Since many are not sure about the nuts and bolts of Daylight Saving Time (DST), we will delve into more information about this well-known time of the year.

Here is what you need to know. First, the official spelling is Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight Savings Time, as many believe. That’s right, you officially can drop the “s” at the end of “Savings.”

No Ordinary Day

What’s the purpose of Daylight Saving Time? One of the key reasons we change our clocks backward or forward during Daylight Saving Time is because it reportedly conserves electricity.

Moreover, it gives us the chance to delight in sun-filled summer evenings by moving our clocks an hour forward during spring time. According to the California Energy Commission, energy use and the demand for electricity for lighting our homes is connected to when we go to bed and when we get up. Since bedtime for many of us is late in the evening throughout the year, when we go to bed, we turn off our television and, subsequently, our lights.

The official spelling is Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight Savings Time as many believe. That’s right, you officially can drop the “s” at the end of “Savings.”

Also says the California Energy Commission, “Daylight Saving Time makes the sun set one hour later and reduces the period between sunset and bedtime by one hour. This means that less electricity would be used for lighting and appliances late in the day. We may use a bit more electricity in the morning because it is darker when we rise, but that is usually offset by the energy savings in the evening.”

The company also adds, “We also use less electricity because we are home fewer hours during the longer days of spring and summer.” The former is excellent news for the energy conscious.

Observing a Common Practice

Much of the U.S. begins Daylight Saving Time at 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday in March. The same is true during the first Sunday in November. However, in the U.S., each time zone switches either forward or backward at a different time. Since 2007, Daylight Saving Time has been extended by one month, a policy that has been in effect for most of the U.S.

What else? In the U.S., Daylight Saving Time takes effect at 2:00 a.m. in order to minimize disruption. With everything else going on in our lives, the last thing that we need is any undue confusion about our time change.

Did you know that many U.S. territories do not adhere to Daylight Saving Time? For instance, Daylight Saving Time is not observed in American Samoa, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Arizona (Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona).

On Pins and Needles

Much controversy has surrounded Daylight Saving Time. Case in point, many individuals dislike this time of year, because they feel it is an inconvenience to change the clocks in their home. Adjusting to a new sleep routine also has proven to be problematic for some. In terms of sleep conflicts, those with sleep disorders find this transition phase hard to cope with. Evidence also suggests that auto accidents increase and work productivity decreases, as individuals continue to adjust to their new time change.

Safety, the Number One Priority

The job of parents is to safeguard their children in the best way possible. But, parents may become unnerved during this time. Some believe children are less visible or identifiable when waiting for school buses and when crossing roadways because they are in total darkness.

Other Things to Do

There is one final piece of housekeeping we need to address, along with setting your clock either forward or backward an hour, changing the batteries in your smoke detectors. When the two are done together, it is much easier to remember to change the batteries. Says William McNabb of the Troy Fire Department in Michigan, “A working smoke detector more than doubles a person’s chances of surviving a home fire.”

Going With the Flow

Whether you are in favor of Daylight Saving Time or not, this time of the year is beneficial in more ways than one, but particularly beneficial to the environment. What are your thoughts on Daylight Saving Time? Use the section below to comment.

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-Kimberly Williams

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