Who Wants Daylight Savings Time — and Why?
Most of us here in the US just lost an hour this weekend because of Daylight Savings Time. This annual clock-advancing used to happen late in April but has been extended a couple of times in the past few decades. It now gets light later in the morning and stays light later in the evening. Why do we do it?
Benjamin Franklin proposed the idea centuries ago as a way of saving candles. One of the modern motivations has been to save energy. But does it? A Scientific American article from 2009 reviewed some of the research on this topic, and it seems to be a wash. The best opportunity to study potential energy savings associated with changing our clocks came in 2006 when Indiana first went on Daylight Savingst Time statewide. They found that residential energy use went up. Why do we do it?
The Scientific American article discussed a US Department of Energy study of utility data that showed savings from the time change. But that was just electricity. What do the results look like when you factor in the extra driving people do because of more evening daylight? I think the energy saving benefits of Daylight Savings Time probably aren't enough to support keeping it. So, why do we do it?
Who benefits from this semiannual clock changing? Golf courses and other outdoor recreation participants and businesses certainly do. Night owls benefit because they don't sleep through as much daylight in the morning. I don't mind having an extra hour of daylight in the evening, but I'd rather have that hour in the morning. I'm still wondering, why do we do it?
And why is Michael Downing so worked up about it? He's a fiction writer who said in an interview with Rachel Maddow, "There aren't many things I've been doing this long that I don't understand." He got so caught up in the issue that he wrote a whole book about it, Spring Forward. He wants more people to ask the question, why do we do it?
Beyond that, what would happen if we didn't have Daylight Savings Time? The farmers would love having that extra hour of daylight back so they'd have more time to get crops harvested and off to market before the business day starts. Also, we'd join our friends in Arizona and Hawaii, who don't bother changing their clocks. And maybe have fewer heart attacks, too.
So, why do we change our clocks twice a year?