We ‘spring forward’ this Sunday, but do you know why we change our clocks?
NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — To be on time for your Sunday activities, remember to turn your clocks forward one hour Saturday night. Most of the United States, including New Orleans, will lose an hour at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 13, 2016, when we switch to Daylight Saving Time.
Why do we observe Daylight Saving Time? The simple answer is to save on energy costs.
One of the biggest reasons we change our clocks to Daylight Saving Time (DST) is that it reportedly saves electricity. Newer studies, however, are challenging long-held reason.
In general, energy use and the demand for electricity for lighting our homes, is directly connected to when we go to bed and when we get up. Bedtime for most of us is late evening through the year. When we go to bed, we turn off the lights and TV.
In the average home, 25% of all the electricity we use is for lighting and small appliances, such as TVs and stereos. A good percentage of energy consumed by lighting and appliances occurs in the evening when families are home. By moving the clock ahead one hour, we can cut the amount of electricity we consume each day.
Studies done in the 1970s by the U.S. Department of Transportation show that we trim the entire country’s electricity usage by about 1% EACH DAY with Daylight Saving Time.
Benjamin Franklin proposed Daylight Saving Time as an American delegate in Paris in 1784. The idea didn’t really catch on in the United States until World War I, in an effort to save on artificial lighting costs. The same thing happened during World War II.
After the war, states individually chose whether to observe daylight saving time and when they wanted to begin it during the year. As you can imagine, this just caused a lot of confusion, especially for travelers and those of us in the news business.
The Uniform Time Act of 1966 provided the basic framework for alternating between Daylight Saving Time and Standard Time, which we now observe in the United States. But Congress can’t seem to resist tinkering with it.
For example, in 1973 Daylight Saving Time was observed all year, instead of just the spring and summer. Again in 1986, Congress declared that DST would begin at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in April and end at 2 a.m. on the last Sunday of October.
In 2007, Congress voted to switch the end of daylight saving time to the first Sunday in November to offer trick-or-treaters more daylight time to venture into the streets, even though most children wait until after dark to go out anyway.
While most states observe the spring forward / fall back switch in time, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and Arizona do not change the clock.
However, the Navajo Nation in Arizona does participate in daylight saving time and will roll the clock back Sunday. The Hopi Reservation, entirely surrounded by the Navajo Nation, does not observe daylight saving time, creating a “donut hole” in time in the middle of Arizona.
When’s the next time change?
Spring forward one hour at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 13, 2016 and fall back Sunday, November 6, 2016.
Oh, and remember, the return the time switch is a great reminder to change the batteries in your smoke detectors, too.