It’s that time again: for Texans to go from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time. The phrase “spring ahead, fall back” sums up the instructions for adjusting to the change: turn your clocks BACK one hour (fall back) on Sunday morning, November 2. Please note that it’s Daylight Saving Time….not “savings” time. Your computer should do it without your help unless it’s very vintage.
According to Congressional law, Standard time begins on the first Sunday of November and ends on the second Sunday in March. This means we have about 17 weeks during the year where darkness comes on “natural” time.
Daylight Saving Time (DST) was first enacted in Germany during World War I as an energy-saving measure; it shifted the daylight one hour later into the evening (less electricity usage; lights not needed as early). England jumped on the DST bandwagon a few weeks after Germany. The U.S. enacted DST in 1918 as a wartime measure and it was repealed a year later. The reversal was due to the outcry from farmers and ranchers: the natural clocks of livestock and other animals didn’t mesh with the man-made time change, so they pushed to have it reversed after WWI ended, and they won.
Some large urban areas like New York and Chicago kept on with local versions of DST; all of the U.S. went back on Daylight Saving mode for WW2 (it was called “War Time”), and the time law was again repealed after war’s end.
For the next two decades (1945 to 1966) cities often applied different versions of the DST idea within the same time zone.. For instance, in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St Paul, Minneapolis began its Daylight Saving Time two weeks after St. Paul, even though they are next to each other. Boston, New York, and Philadelphia were not on the same time as Washington D.C., Cleveland, or Baltimore for five weeks each year despite all sharing the Eastern Time Zone. It was an extremely confusing puzzle of juggled time changes until Congress passed the Uniform Time Act in 1966 and got (most) everybody on the same page.
After the 1966 law, Daylight Saving Time began on the last Sunday of April and ended on the last Sunday of October. DST was altered to begin on the first Sunday of April beginning in 1987, and the law was amended again (it took effect in 2007) so that Daylight Saving Time now begins on the second Sunday of March and ends on the first Sunday of November. Hawaii and Arizona do not observe DST, but instead remain on standard time year round.
Recent studies show that the supposed energy savings from DST may not be worth the trouble it creates with people’s sleeping patterns, commerce, and lost productivity while adjusting to the twice-a-year change.
In fact, some number-crunching suggests that with most homes air conditioned today, keeping it light later in the evening during the hot summer months may actually contribute to more energy consumption. While DST does offer benefits to recreation-oriented businesses (amusement parks, golf courses, etc.) as well as other groups, the original intent of DST, to save energy, may have slipped away over the past century. Arizona does not follow Daylight Saving Time for exactly this reason: it pushes the blistering hot desert temperatures one hour later into the evening compared to Standard Time. Who wants that?
These clock changes offer a convenient “time” for you to check your smoke detector/carbon monoxide detector batteries and A/C filters as well. It will help keep you safe, and a clean filter will probably save you money with a more efficient air flow…no matter what the clocks say.