Daylight Saving Time 101

This weekend is Daylight Saving Time. So remember to set yer clocks AHEAD an hour.

   Couple of facts about DST: It's Saving Time, not Savings Time. Nevertheless, many people feel the word savings (with an 's') flows better, and "Daylight Savings Time" is also in common usage, and can be found in dictionaries. In the European Union, everybody sets their clocks ahead a couple of weeks from now on Mar 30. This can be a real pain if you're traveling, by the way, and get caught in between. Happened to me one year.

Setting your clocks: There's a few sites which you can depend on for accurate time, if you're one of those anal types who must have it correct to the second:
   --The US Naval Observatory.
   --US Clock Website (
   --World Clock
   --FYI: World Clock also has a list of countries which do not turn their clocks back HERE.

Background: The whole concept of Daylight Saving Time is thought to have begun with one of our Founding Fathers, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, who wrote a letter to a French journal in 1874, noting that Parisians could save thousands of francs a years by waking up earlier during the summer because it would prevent them from having to buy so many candles to light the evening hours. Aha!

   However, in the U-S, it really didn't start until WWI, when Congress decided to give the idea a try in 1918 in an effort to save energy. They passed the law in the same act that created standard time zones, but it wasn't very popular and was repealed the following year.

   Then, in 1942, during the next big war, President FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT (that would be FDR) tried out a concept he called "War Time," which set the clocks permanently an hour earlier all-year 'round to save energy. After the war ended in 1945, most of the states adopted a summer-only time change.

Daylight Saving Time is not observed: in Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, and most of the state of Arizona (although not the Navajo Indian Reservation, which does observe). The Navajo Nation participates in the Daylight Saving Time policy due to its large size and location in three states.
   Overseas, about 70 countries observe Daylight Saving Time; most of Europe sets their clocks ahead Sun, Mar 27. China and Japan are two countries which do not.

Many fire departments encourage people to change the battery in your smoke detector when you change their clocks. A startling statistic: more than 90 percent of homes in the United States have smoke detectors, but one-third are estimated to have worn-out or missing batteries.

Factoid: 50 percent or more of insomnia cases are related to anxiety, psychological stress or depression. (Source: Sleep Disorders Journal) 

Does resetting the clocks really save energy?
Maybe, maybe not. People tend to waste several hours of natural light each day. Most of us wake up well after the sun rises and go to sleep long after it sets. If we spent more waking hours when the sun is out, we wouldn't need to use as much electricity to illuminate our surroundings. 

   At least that's the theory. Of course, there are trade-offs. When you set your clocks forward, you exchange morning daylight for a later sunset. Later sunsets tend to get people out of the house more in the evenings, which could lead to an increase in driving (and gasoline use) and a reduction in the use of household appliances.

   And a study last year showed during the summer months in Daylight Saving Time, people tended to turn on their A/C earlier because they got home earlier, hence a net loss of energy.
   And if daylight time extended too far into the winter, more people would wake up before sunrise and turn on the lights. Government research from the 1970s suggests that extended daylight-saving time produces a modest but significant energy savings of about 1 percent.

Why isn't it observed in Arizona, Hawaii and the U-S territories? Weather. They stay on standard time all year because if you've spent any time in the sweltering summer sun in those regions you can understand why residents don't need another hour of sunlight. But, if you live in, say, Bullhead City, AZ, but work in Needles, CA, sometimes you're on track, sometimes you're an hour off.

Indiana used to have schizophrenic system: 77 of the state's 92 counties were in the eastern time zone but didn't change to daylight time in April. Instead they remained on standard time all year, except for two counties near Cincinnati, OH, and Louisville, KY, which did use daylight time. That all changed in 2005 when the state passed a law mandating that everyone observe the time changes. Good thing, too since the state is already split between two time zones. How'd ya like to live in one and work in the other?

Daylight Saving trivia: Bet you didn't know that the Sunday after we move the clocks forward is one of the worst for church attendance. It's toughest on families with small children but church leaders tell ABC News attendance is down about 10-15 percent on average.

   Some folks show late so some churches begin services a half hour later; others send e-mail reminders to the congregation; still others provide coffee and donuts; and each church seems to have a handful of folks who showed up an hour late not realizing the clocks had changed at all.

   And in what makes the most sense, one pastor says folks who miss might not be missing much. The day after the switch tends to be a low energy sermon.
   "We're all tired," he said. And he looks forward to that Sunday in the fall when forgetful parishioners show up an hour early.

Now, enjoy that lost hour of sleep...