Spring Forward, Fall Back: 3 Myths Dispelled About Our Biannual Clock Spinning

At 2:00 am Sunday, November 5, 2017, we will turn our clocks back one hour as Standard Time returns and Daylight Saving Time (saving, not savings) comes to an end for this year.

Twice a year many discussions start up about why we use Daylight Saving Time (DST), when it started and what we’ll do with that ‘extra hour’ in the fall when we switch back to Standard Time.

After a little research, here are three common myths about this twice-a-year time-travel experience.

Myth #1: Benjamin Franklin Invented DST
Benjamin Franklin, who ironically coined the phrase, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” did not ‘invent’ DST.

While a diplomat in Paris in 1784, Franklin suggested in a satirical essay that a change in sleep patterns, not time itself, would save money spent on candles simply by waking up at dawn and using the sunshine instead of candles.

The first push to change the clocks came in 1905 when Englishman William Willett suggested that the United Kingdom should move its clocks forward by 80 minutes between April and October so that more people could enjoy the plentiful sunlight. Willett died in 1915 without ever seeing how his idea played out.

Myth #2: Daylight Saving Time Will Save Energy
In 1916, Germany became the first country to adopt DST as a means to conserve energy during WWI. Soon after Britain followed suit and in 1918, the United States, via the Standard Time Act, established time zones and daylight saving.

Many studies have been done, too many to mention here, that conclude significant energy savings does NOT happen as a result of DST. In fact, a study done in Indiana showed that energy consumption actually increased in that state.

Myth #3: Daylight Saving Time Benefits Farmers
It appears that farmers have been against this measure of playing with time since the very beginning. The agricultural industry began its opposition movement in 1919, asking for a repeal of DST stating that the change in time cuts productivity. It is not where hands sit on a timepiece but rather the sun that determines a farmer’s schedule.

While National DST was in fact repealed in 1919, many places continued the practice. DST returned with WWII, was repealed again at the end of the war but confusion ensued as states and cities continuing the practice determined their own start and stop dates.

Order finally came in 1966 when the enactment of The Uniform Time Act standardized daylight saving time from the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October, although states had the option of remaining on standard time year-round.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended DST in the U.S. beginning in 2007. Going from 2007 forward, DST in the U.S. begins at 2:00 am on the second Sunday of March and ends at 2:00 am on the first Sunday of November.

States in the U.S. are not required to observe daylight saving time. Hawaii and most of Arizona do not and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands also remain on standard time year-round.

So whether you are for or against our fiddling with time, and no matter if you turn your clocks back before you go to bed or when you get up in the morning, just remember to fall back one hour this weekend.

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