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Why do we have daylight savings time?

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

The better usage of electricity is why we have Daylight Savings Time

The better usage of electricity is why we have Daylight Savings Time

Another term for daylight savings time (DST) – or as it correctly called Daylight Saving Time – is ?summer time.? The reason daylight saving time was adapted was to allow better use of daylight. Some people like this idea whereas others can?t abide it. In the late spring, clocks are moved forward one hour (spring forward) which moves an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening. This means it stays lighter in the evenings during the summer months, which many people enjoy because they can stay outside longer.

Why do we have daylight saving time? Benjamin Franklin was the one who came up with the concept of daylight saving. He revealed this concept in 1784. However, DST wasn?t taken seriously until it was promoted by William Willett, a builder in England, who wrote, ?Waste of Daylight.? He suggested that clocks should be advanced 20 minutes on each of the four Sundays in April and then set backed by 20 minutes on each of the four Sundays in September.

Daylight savings cuts electrical usage by approximately one percent a day in the United States, which is the primary reason this practice has been adapted.  

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The theory behind DST is that electrical usage is dependent on the time that people get up in the morning and the time they go to bed at night. A significant amount of energy is used in the evenings; however, when DST is instituted, less electricity is used at night.

Granted, a person is more likely to get up when it?s dark when DST is implemented, particularly for those who get up before 7 a.m., but the energy that is used in the morning by these people is not as much as what they would have used in the evening if DST weren?t in effect.


The advantage in the winter time is that people have more light in the morning when they are traveling to work. In the fall, clocks are turned back (fall back) one hour. DST, however, doesn?t amount to much savings  during the darkest months of the year, which are Novmeber December, January and February. That?s because the light advantage that is gained in the afternoon is less than the light requirements needed in the morning because the sun rises so late.  

One reported advantage of DST is that there are fewer traffic accidents. However, there is an increase in accidents in the mornings when it is dark but far fewer accidents than what would occur if it were dark earlier in evening.  

One negative is that more pedestrians are killed by vehicles after 6 p.m. during the first few weeks right after clocks have been set back in the autumn. Those who walk are more apt, in fact, three times more likely, to be struck by a vehicle subsequent to the time change in the fall than they were a month before clocks are set back. 

This is thought to be due to the adjustment period that drivers must go through when dusk comes earlier than it was. Not as many people are walking before 6 a.m. as they are after 6 p.m. so the pedestrian lives that are saved in the morning due to DST do not offset those lives that are lost in the evening. Another drawback to DST is that children walking to school in darkness are less visible and more at risk for being struck by a vehicle.

It can be very difficult for some people to adjust to the time change, whether it involves moving the clock forward or backward. It is especially hard on those who suffer from sleep disorders. An adjustment period is required, which is evidenced by the fact that work productivity falls right after a time change as traffic accidents increase.

Unfortunately, animals do not understand the ?time change? so it makes it difficult for farmers whose work schedule is linked to sunrise.  


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