When your alarm clock goes off the Monday after Daylight Savings begins and your body thinks it’s 5am but the clock says it’s 6am, you’ll think one thing: "who’s idea was this?!"
It’s not just your sleep this is interrupting either. Travel, heavy equipment, record keeping, billing, medical devise, and sometimes even computer software can be effected by Daylight Savings. Why do we do this twice a year?
If you’re looking for someone to blame for DST, read on.
|Roman Water Clock with different designations for seasons of the year. By The illustrator was probably w:John Farey, Jr. (1791–1851). The principal engraver for the encyclopedia was Wilson Lowry (1762–1824). [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
Most people think Benjamin Franklin is to blame for DST. Though he did write an essay for The Journal of Paris about getting up earlier and going to bed later to save on candles, it was mostly a joke. This is the guy who was a proponent of “early to bed, early to rise . . .” though so maybe he is to blame after all.
Roman water clocks measured time differently depending on the time of the year and they probably weren’t the first ones to try this. They observed the sun’s schedule and adjusted their own to suit. Pretty smart, but also potentially sleep disrupting.
In 1895, this scientist from New Zealand proposed a daylight saving plan to the Wellington Philosophical Society. A two-hour shift in forward in October and then back again in March. Yes, two hours. Nobody went for it—at least not yet.
After the turn of the century, the popularity of the idea spread quickly across the world. William Willett, a Brit, suggested moving clocks forward by 20 minutes each Sunday in April and switching them back at the same intervals in September—a very complicated plan, but a little easier on the sleep schedule.
In July 1908, Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay), Ontario introduced bylaws that made DST a thing.
Germany, United Kingdom, Europe
In April 1916, Germany was the first country to adopt DST with a jump ahead by one hour. This was mostly to aid with energy savings efforts during World War I. The UK and several other European countries followed in the next several months. After the war ended, most countries went back to standard time until World War II. Necessity is the mother of invention, after all.
The U.S. jumped on the bandwagon during the war as well. Robert Garland, an industrialist from Pittsburgh got the idea when he visited the UK and brought it back to the States. He is known as the “Father of Daylight Saving.” President Woodrow Wilson signed it into law in 1918. It was repealed with the changing of the seasons but many cities continued to use it anyway. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made DST official across the USA.
There really wasn’t much standardization on DST so from 1945 on, there was pretty much mass pandemonium when DST made its rounds—especially for train and bus schedules and in the broadcasting industry. Finally in 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which standardized how DST works. States could still opt out by passing a state ordinance. ‘Bout time guys.
There have been many changes to DST policy many times since then, but it is often tied to energy conservation. The 1973 oil embargo prompted changes that saved the equivalent of 10,000 barrels of oil every day! Many thought that wasn’t worth months of dark winter mornings, however.
|Daltile contributes to energy conservation in measurable ways every day! Our manufacturing plants' combined efforts in energy reduction saved enough electricity to power 750 homes for an entire year! Read more about our dedication to protecting our environment at daltile.com/greenworks/sustainability/energy.|
More than a billion people deal with DST each year. No single country does it the same as the next. But it has its purposes—though they are constantly in debate.
In 2008, the Department of Energy reported that an average American household used about .5% less energy (in the form of electrical lighting) per day because of DST. That comes out to about 1.3 TWh per year energy savings nationwide.
On the other hand, another study found that heating and cooling costs increased energy consumption during DST to the tune of $9 million and increased pollution.
Much more research needs to be done before either of the studies can be verified and a clear statement on net energy savings or usage can be made.
Did you find the culprit? The “Father of Daylight Savings” Robert Garland perhaps? Or maybe it was those smarty pants Romans? Whichever side of the debate you come down on, at least when your alarm rings on Monday morning, you’ll understand a bit more about why.