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Daylight-saving time: When to change clocks, why we should abolish it



fall back time change date daylight saving time dst november 2 2018 2am 2x1
2018, daylight-saving time or DST ends on Sunday, November 4 at
2:00 a.m.

Skye Gould/Business

  • Daylight-saving time, or
    DST, began in the US in 1918 as a way to conserve
  • However, many Americans believe the practice is not
    worth the hassle.
  • Scientific studies also suggest that daylight-saving
    time may cause more problems than it solves.
  • There are two main proposals to get rid of DST: by
    creating fewer time zones or moving to one
    universal time.

On Sunday at the stroke of 2:00 a.m., most people in North
America and Europe will roll their clocks backward one hour to
end daylight-saving time, or DST.

There’s some reason to celebrate: This will give hundreds of
millions of people one extra hour of sleep. But on March 10,
2019, the invisible time vampire will return to suck away that
hour of sleep.

This is perhaps the modern world’s dumbest ritual — a curse upon
those who live within its confines, and a practice that needs to
be abolished.

Daylight-saving time (not “daylight-savings” time) was created
during World War I to decrease energy use. The practice was
implemented year-round in 1942, during WWII. Not waking up in the
dark, the thinking went, would decrease fuel use for lighting and
heating. That would help conserve energy supplies to help the war

Nearly 100 years later, though, the US is a divided nation on
this topic. A 2012 survey of 1,000
American adults
 found that 45% thought daylight-saving
was worth it, while more than 40% considered it worthless.

More than 152,560 people have petitioned Congress to
end daylight-saving time
. Some of the comments on the
petition are practical appeals.

“Please stop switching the time! It’s awful driving home in the
dark. I’m a woman that drives 30 miles down a 2 lane state hwy to
get home!” wrote Lana J. from Gilmer, Texas.

Others are warranted and blistering critiques.

“Daylight saving time is an antiquated practice and serves no
purpose in the modern world,” wrote Dustin M. from Kings
Mountain, North Carolina. “It causes undo stress to millions of
Americans and does nothing for anyone.”

We’re with Dustin, and here’s why.

What’s the problem with DST?

Earth at Night NASA

According to advocacy groups like, which are
trying to abolish daylight-saving time, claims about saving
energy are unproven. “If we are saving energy, let’s go
year-round with daylight-saving time,” the group says. “If we are
not saving energy, let’s drop daylight-saving time!”

In his book “Spring Forward: The
Annual Madness of Daylight-Saving Time
,” author Michael
Downing says there isn’t much evidence that daylight-saving
actually decreases energy use.

In fact, sometimes DST seems to increase energy use.

For example, in Indiana — where daylight-saving time was
implemented statewide in 2006 — researchers saw that people used less
electricity for light, but those gains were canceled out by
people who used more air conditioning during the early evenings.
(That’s because 6 p.m. felt more like 5 p.m., when the sun still
shines brightly in the summer and homes haven’t had the chance to
cool off.)

DST also increases gasoline consumption, something Downing says
the petroleum industry has known since the 1930s. This is
probably because evening activities — and the vehicle use they
require — increase with that extra daylight.

Changing the clocks also causes air travel synchronization
headaches, which sometimes leads to travel delays and lost
revenue, airlines have
reportedly said

There are also
health issues associated with changing the clocks
. Similar to
the way jet-lag makes you feel all out of whack, daylight-saving
time is like scooting one time zone over. This can disrupt our
sleep, metabolism, mood, stress levels, and other bodily rhythms.
One study suggests recovery can take
three weeks

In the days after DST starts or ends, in fact, researchers have
observed a spike
in heart attacks
, increased
numbers of work injuries
, more automobile
, and higher suicide

Why keep it?

light bulb

Despite those early studies about energy use, one analysis from
2008 did find a small amount of energy savings after we extended
DST by four weeks
in 2005

According to the Christian Science

“Most advocates cite a 2008 report to Congress by the Department
of Energy which showed that total electricity savings from the
extended daylight-saving period amounted to 1.3 terawatt-hours,
or 0.03 percent of electricity consumption over the year. That’s
a tiny number. But if electricity costs 10 cents per kilowatt,
that means an estimated $130 million in savings each year.”

More evening light also inspires people to go out and spend

Downing told NPR
that this comes in the form of activities like shopping and
playing golf — the golf industry told Congress that an extra
month of daylight-saving was worth $200 million in 1986. The BBQ
industry said extending DST would boost sales by $100 million.

Extending daylight-saving time to November might also help the
Halloween industry — the longer kids can trick-or-treat, the more
candy you need to buy.

Changing the law can also be expensive. One legislature
representative in Alberta, Canada, suggested that holding a
referendum on DST may
cost the province $2 to $6 million
, even if it were put into
a standard election ballot, and that holding a no-DST vote on its
own might cost $22 million to organize and execute.

A world divided over time

Daylight Saving World Subdivisions october 2018 paul eggert wikipedia ccbysa3
in the world daylight saving time is used (blue), abolished
(orange), and never instituted (red).

Eggert/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Other areas of the world have gotten rid of daylight-saving time,
or never had it to begin with.

map above
shows the breakdown. Blue areas observe DST, red
areas never have, and orange areas once did but have since
abolished it.

Some parts of the US have decided not to observe daylight-saving
time, including most of Arizona (excluding
the Navajo and Hopi reservations in the northeast
), and until
2006, parts of Indiana.

A bill to abolish DST was once
recommended for passage in Oklahoma
, but it was not signed
into law
. A lawmaker in Utah also
introduced legislation
to try to abolish DST, but his bill
in committee

The decision is up to individual counties, but choosing not
observe DST when other nearby cities and counties do can be

Alternate proposals has a unique suggestion.

Their proposal is to create just two time zones in the
continental US that are two hours apart. 

standard time zone anti daylight saving time

Compare that to the current state of things in America.

Right now, the US is broken into six time zones: Eastern,
Central, Mountain, Pacific time, Alaska time, and Hawaii-Aleutian
time, each one hour apart from the next.

These time zones exist so that areas in the east of each time
zone get sunrise at about the same time.

time zonesWikimedia

Under’s proposed system, the US’ East and West
Coasts would only be two hours apart. This would standardize more
travel and meeting times within the country.

But the downside would be that sunrise and sunset would happen at
wildly different times for many areas of the nation. 

For example, the sun rose in New York City at about 6:15 a.m. EST
today and in Chicago at 6:10 a.m. CST; but if the two were in the
same time zone, sunrise would be at 8:15 “Eastern Time” in

Johns Hopkins University professors Richard Henry and Steven
Hanke have come up with yet another possible fix: adopting
a single time zone 
They argue that the internet has eliminated the need for discrete
time zones across the globe, so we might as well just do away
with them. The proposal also includes a 13-month “
.” (The idea, understandably,
has encountered some resistance

No plan will satisfy everyone. But that doesn’t mean
daylight-saving time is right.

The absence of major energy-saving benefits from DST — along with
death toll, health impacts, and economic ramifications
— are
reason enough to get rid of the ritual.

Jennifer Welsh and Sarah Kramer contributed to previous
versions of this post.

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