WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

DST - 'Disputing Saving Time'?

Posted March 5, 2008 9:25 p.m. EST
Updated March 6, 2008 10:47 a.m. EST

Spring forward, fall back.

It's been engrained in our minds since childhood -- that is, so long as your childhood wasn't spent in Arizona, Hawai'i, or select parts of Indiana, of course.  In the spring, we set our clocks forward in hopes of "saving time" and -- supposedly -- saving energy.  That hour of sleep we lose in the spring is repaid in the fall, supposedly with the dividend of kilowatts and energy dollars saved.

And, thanks to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, we will spring forward right early this year -- this coming Sunday morning, in fact.  (You've been warned, lest you oversleep for church, brunch, or other Sunday morning activities!)

Generally, Ben Franklin is credited with suggesting the clock change.  According to Bob Aldrich's fantastic primer on the history of DST, Franklin made the suggestion back in 1784, while he was an ambassador to France.  It wasn't until the 1900s when it anyone really used DST -- the Brits picked it up in 1916, calling it "Summer Time".  We picked it up here stateside during the World War I, and it's been a part of American discourse ever since.

According to Aldrich, DST supporters say it saves energy (we don't have to turn on as many lights in the evening if it's still light out), prevents traffic accidents (by shifting the afternoon rush hour into daylight hours), and prevents crime (more daylight in the evening when folks are likely to be out and about).

But it's far from unanimous.  The folks at End Daylight Saving Time say that farmers have long opposed DST.  Their workday revolves around the sun, regardless of the clock.  Another recent article goes one further by suggesting that DST is doing a poor job of accomplishing it's original goal -- to save energy.

Personally, I hate losing that hour of sleep in the springtime, but I sure do love getting it back in the fall.  I also think that the time shift helps to get me in the mood for the upcoming season -- springing forward gives us "more daylight" in the evening, after work, while falling back encourages us back inside when things turn chilly.  That's just my $0.02 -- What do you think about DST?  Is it more annoyance than anything, or is it really helping out?  Or does it even matter?

Regardless, it's that time of year again, and while you may or may not like it (and I know of a scant few who really like losing that hour of sleep in the spring!) "Spring Forward" is coming.  So, set those clocks!