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Daylight Saving Time

2006 Update

Daylight Saving Time has been observed from 2:00 on the First Sunday of April to 2:00 on the last Sunday in October since 1966.

So this year, 2006, we will change our clocks (from 2:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m - Spring Forward/Fall Back) on Sunday, October 28 at 2:00 a.m.

But this pattern will change next year. Day Light Saving Time on the second Sunday in March next year and revert to standard time on the first Sunday in November. It will not be 2:00 a.m. around the country but it will instead change depending on the time zone.

So this year we had Daylight Savings time from April 2nd to October 29. Next year it will be from March 11 thru November 4, 2007.

And yes, the proper term is Daylight Saving, without an "s" (not savings). Saving is used as in Saving a Ballgame (The "game saving play").

Daylight Saving Time (DST) was first brought about during WWI. It was an effort to conserve resources and called for all clocks to be moved ahead one full hour. It was a hard concept to accept and within seven months of making the law, it was repealed.

Then, along came WWII and there was again a major need to conserve energy. Congress put DST into effect on February 3, 1942. It remained in effect, without interruption until September 30, 1945.

Once the war was over, DST was no longer mandatory, but became an option in each state, causing quite a bit of commotion and confusion for transportation companies and other industries that crossed state borders. Possibly the most affected business was the entertainment industry, because without uniformity they were not able to reach their audience at the same time.

Congress stepped in again as recently as 1966 when they enacted the Uniform Time Act. It is this act that established the last Sunday in April as the beginning of DST and declared that it would end the last Saturday in October. It wasn't until 1986 that the law was amended and the start of DST became the first Sunday in April. This change is estimated to save the country 300 million barrels of oil each year.

The law, however, still did not make participation mandatory. It simply said that if a locality was going to participate, they must do so in a uniform manner, that is, they must follow the dates prescribed by the law.

Amazingly, one of the biggest reasons we change our clocks reverts to the original concept during WWI - it saves energy. There is a direct relationship between the amount of energy we use (such as electricity) and the time we spend in bed.

Simply put, when we go to bed we turn off the television and the lights, thereby conserving energy. It may not sound like much, but in the average home statistics show that 25% of the electricity we use is generated by small appliances including televisions and stereos.

Studies from the 1970's show that the entire country's use of electricity is reduced by a minimum of 1% every single day that DST is in use. Sure, you may not see much of a difference because, after all, small appliances do not use that much energy. But imagine the savings when it is multiplied by every electricity-using household! So, regardless of the Time Zone, DST is an effective means of energy conservation.

Time Zones got their origins in 1883 when they were first used by the Railroad. A man by the name of Sanford Fleming, of Canada, played a major role in the development of the zones.

Before this, major metropolitan areas set their clocks by astrological conditions. Because they did not have sophisticated equipment there was no consistency from area to area.

In 1884, in Washington DC Fleming's system was introduced at the Prime Meridian Conference. It was adopted then and is still in effect today.

The idea of "changing" time to conserve energy may well have been the brainchild of none other than Benjamin Franklin who published an essay in 1784. His essay entitled "An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light" was published in Paris and virtually ignored.

In 1907, Englishman William Willett wrote a dissertation titled "The Waste of Daylight". His idea was a little more complex than today's system and the British House of Commons rejected it. By 1916 a simplified version was made into law by British Parliament, putting clocks one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time during the summer.

Most states do observe DST. Notably, those that do not include Arizona, Hawaii and the Eastern Time Zone section of Indiana.

The United States is not the only country to observe some form of DST. The European Union (EU) created and standardized a "summertime period" for all of the EU nations. The time period is approximately the same - it runs from the last Sunday in March through the last Sunday in October.

Then there's Russia with its eleven different time zones. In the summer months Russia sets it's clocks two hours ahead of the standard time. During the winter they are one hour ahead of standard time.

In the southern hemisphere, including Australia and New Zealand where seasons are reversed and summer comes in December, DST begins in October and continues through March.

The countries along the Equator and most tropical countries do not observe DST at all. This is because their hours of daylight are so similar during every season that there is no advantage to adjusting the time.

It is the Department of Transportation that has the authority and responsibility of laws pertaining to time. They have conducted studies and found some very interesting information. First and possibly foremost, Daylight Savings Time works - it really does conserve energy.

They also discovered that DST was influential in saving lives and preventing traffic accidents. This is because people are traveling home from work and school in daylight rather than darkness. The obvious rebuttal to this is that the morning hours, when people are going to work and school they are going in more darkness, but statistically the hazards do not increase.

They even found DST to prevent crime -a gain because more activity is taken place "in broad daylight" and people's exposure is more limited.

All of this also equates into dollars saved, since, according to the Department of Transportations studies, $28 million was saved by reducing traffic accidents and the costs relating to them during the two years of their study.

Now - the big question everyone always asks. Many states regard "closing time" at local drinking establishments as 2:00 a.m. and liquor cannot be served beyond that point. So then, if the time (in October) "falls back" an hour, can't the bars continue to serve an extra hour in October?

Well, it's a technicality. If 2:00 a.m. is the magic hour that means liquor cannot be sold or consumed after 1:59 a.m. so technically, the bar is already closed when DST kicks in.

More than you need to know? Probably. When it comes right down to it just remember - "Spring Forward, Fall Back" and you'll be fine.

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