This Sunday at 2 a.m., your clocks will jump ahead one hour, the start of more evening sunlight for months to come.
To many a minor annoyance or a bit of relief, Daylight Saving Time reminds us of the sun's daily effect on our lives and tells us spring is on its way. If only we could save ourselves from the seasonal allergies.
But no matter what the time change tells you, Daylight Saving Time is implemented for a reason. The tradition of springing forward and falling back is overseen by the U.S. Department of Transportation and is rooted in saving energy.
The agency boasts people tend to spend more time outside during Daylight Saving Time, meaning they tend to run household appliances and lights less during the nearly 8-month period. Also, it prevents traffic incidents because people are driving around more during the light hours. It also is a crime deterrent, DOT claims, because people are out during the daylight and not at night, "when more crime occurs," the agency states.
Daylight Saving Time was first used in World War I and World War II. But the U.S. didn't implement a nationwide Daylight Saving Time standard, the U.S. Department of Energy said, until Congress passed the Uniform Time Act of 1966. In 2007, the federal government expanded Daylight Saving Time, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in order to reduce energy consumption. Daylight Saving Time now accounts for about 65% of the year.
The extra month of Daylight Saving Time, a DOE study found, saves the nation about 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours, equal to the yearly energy used by more than 100,000 households.
However, not everyone agrees it offers energy saving benefits. Some studies claim the time switch saves energy on lighting but is surpassed by usage increases for heating and air-conditioning.
States are able to exempt themselves. Hawaii and most of Arizona don't take part in Daylight Saving Time. Arizona gets plenty of sunlight and in 1968, decided to opt out of the time change. However, certain Native American reservations in Arizona still participate. Other non-observers are the American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Last month, a pair of Wisconsin lawmakers first sought to end the state's participation in Daylight Saving Time, citing the fact it causes confusions, robs people of sleep and forces children to go to school in the dark. The measure received push back on sun lovers and businesses such as golf course owners and landscapers that relied on the extra hour of sunlight. The two later drafted a bill to make Daylight Saving Time permanent, which would require a federal waiver.
Others see Daylight Saving Time as a moment to check on some household duties that have fallen by the wayside. Many fire departments suggest people check their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors when they adjust their clocks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises people have their vehicles checked for safety recalls around Daylight Saving Time.
If the late sunlight isn't your thing, the clocks turn back at 2 a.m. on Nov. 5.
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