Figuring out Daylight Saving Time can be like computing Boolean algebra on an abacus. Let’s say you’ve jumped on a conference call that’s scheduled for 1:00 pm. You’re the only one on the line, but that’s no big deal. People often trickle onto these calls. However, when no one’s trickled in by 1:20, it hits you: someone or other may be on Daylight Saving Time. Was your 1:00 pm their 11:00 am? Was it their 10:00 am? Was it their 3:00 pm? Their 4:00 pm?
Situations such as this have fueled resentment for Daylight Saving Time and prompted demand for its abolition. However, there those who approve of it and advocate keeping it. Here we’ll explore both sides of the argument: Should we keep Daylight Saving Time or not?
What is Daylight Saving Time?
Daylight Saving Time (not “savings”) is a controversial one-hour resetting of Standard Time (regular local time of a specific region) intended to more effectively use daylight and conserve energy.
On the second Sunday in March, when DST starts, clocks are set ahead one hour. Sunrise and sunset then occur one hour later than they typically would. On the first Sunday of November, clocks are set back one hour, returning to Standard Time. This year in California, Daylight Saving Time begins on March 10 and ends on November 3. No daylight is actually saved; it’s simply shifted.
How Did Daylight Saving Time Begin?
The idea of Daylight Saving Time was devised by Benjamin Franklin. However, DST had nothing to do with farmers wanting extra time in their fields. This is a myth. They actually rejected the notion, since their activities focus upon sunlight rather than the clock. DST was first implemented by Germany during World War I to curtail domestic use of artificial lighting, thus saving fuel for warfare. Over 70 countries now use Daylight Saving Time.
Keep It: Longer Evenings
Daylight Saving Time supporters contend that the extra morning and afternoon daylight are beneficial to our economy and our health.
• Tourists and shoppers stay out longer during lengthier evenings. People have more opportunity to shop, eat out and engage in other recreational activities, which in turn boosts the economy.
• Daylight Saving Time promotes health by helping counteract sedentary habits. Extra daylight hours can be spent outside doing everything from running to gardening to walking the dog. With increased exercise comes decreased depression.
Ditch It: Daylight Saving Time Doesn’t Save Energy
When DST was introduced centuries ago, energy use was simpler. More daylight meant less energy consumption, and there were fewer appliances to consume it. Daylight Saving Time made sense then. However, with our current profusion of computers, printers, TVs, gadget chargers, air conditioners, microwaves, and other appliances, energy is sapped up regardless of the sun’s position.
According to a report by the United States Department of Energy, the impact of DST on energy conservation is insignificant.
Keep It: Daylight Saving Time Reduces Crime
Those who favor Daylight Saving Time believe that it deters crime. Criminals prefer to operate at night when their activities are obscured by darkness. More light means less cover for crooks.
Nicholas Sanders, assistant professor of economics in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management in the College of Human Ecology and Jennifer Doleac, assistant professor of public policy and economics at the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy put this theory of crime reduction during DST to the test.
They discovered that as Daylight Saving Time ended in the fall, incidents of reported robbery increased by 7 percent. Most of those crimes happened in the hours just during and after sunset, where robberies increased by 27 percent.
“Society could reduce the overall social costs of crime,” they concluded, “by simply shifting the clock.”
Ditch It: Daylight Saving Time Isn’t Healthy
People who want to End Daylight Saving Time cite multiple ways it can take a toll on health.
• According to a 2014 study by Dr. Amneet Sandhu of the University of Colorado, the Monday after the time change there are 25 percent more heart attacks than on a typical Monday. When we gain an hour in the fall, however, that rate drops 21 percent.
• A 2014 study by the University of Colorado’s Austin C. Smith found that sleep deprivation from the change to DST raised the risk of fatal car crashes during the following six days.
• The workplace can also take a hit from the Daylight Saving Time transition. A study by Christopher M. Barnes and David T. Wagner found that on the Monday after the changeover, on-the-job injuries escalated six percent, and those injuries were often more severe than on a typical Monday. Additionally, injured employees missed 67 percent more days of work than those hurt on other days.
Keep It: Daylight Saving Time Increases Revenues
Daylight Saving Time keeps golf thriving. Golf? Yes. According to World Golf Foundation CEO, Steve Mona, “Daylight Saving Time creates additional opportunities to play golf. From an economic standpoint, golf on a national level creates almost $70 million a year in economic impact.”
Additionally, the sport employs two million United States’ citizens and produces $4 billion in charitable giving, which is largely donated to causes unrelated to the sport.
Mona adds that Daylight Saving Time boosts revenues of other industries, as well. “The barbecue industry loves Daylight Savings [sic]. So do the home goods stores because people tend to go out of their houses, see that their roofs need replacing and buy more shingles.”
Ditch It: It Increases Gas Consumption
According to Michael Downing, author of “Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time,” DST hikes gas usage. The extra hour of daylight prompts people to drive to shopping centers, sporting events or entertainment. This is especially detrimental now that fossil fuel usage is questioned.
There are those who believe Daylight Saving Time promotes quality of life. There are those who think it’s an archaic nuisance. The bottom line? Each believes that time is on their side.