Daylight Savings Time

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Sustainable Future with Lisa Emery

Every Spring we move our clocks ahead one hour ahead and "lose" an hour of sleep during the night and then each Fall we move our clocks back one hour and "gain" the extra hour of sleep back again. At 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March, we set our clocks forward one hour ahead of standard time. The phrase "spring forward and fall back" helps people remember how Daylight Saving Time works and how to set their clocks.

Daylight Savings Time was first enacted in Germany in 1915. It was then quickly adopted by Britain and much of Europe and Canada. Daylight Saving Time was also set up in the United States during World War 1 in order to save energy for war production by taking advantage of the later hours of daylight between April and October. Benjamin Franklin ("early to bed, early to rise") is created with coming up with the idea of daylight saving time.

It was the United States government by Act ensured that the second Sunday of March to the first Sunday of November was to be Daylight Savings Time, with the hope that it would save 10,000 barrels of oil each day through reduced use of power by businesses during daylight hours. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine energy savings from Daylight Saving Time based on a variety of factors.

Is it possible that little or no energy is saved by Daylight Saving Time. Since energy consumption is relative to outside temperatures, the benefits of daylight saving time would be better in milder climates.

Previously, Canada had observed Daylight Saving Time from the first Sunday in April until the last Sunday in October. However, through legislation passed in 2006, Daylight Saving Time now begins three weeks earlier on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November.

This change in Daylight Saving Time kept Canada's Daylight Saving Time pattern consistent with the United States which enacted into law a broad energy bill that extended Daylight Saving Time in the same manner. The change was aimed at trying to help save energy, since people aren't expected to need their lights on as early in the evening. But there is still some debate about whether the change reduces energy consumption.

The theory being, since the sun shone for a time while most people were asleep, it was reasoned that light would be better used during the day. The solution was to push the clocks ahead one hour in springtime, forcing people to wake an hour earlier. They would then supposedly use less energy trying to light their homes. When the days start getting shorter in the Autumn and people awaken to increasing darkness, the clocks are turned back an hour to get more light in the morning.

Don’t forget to check the battery in your smoke detectors, too.

TAGLINE: Lisa Emery, B.A., E.C. invites comments to her columns. You can contact her at

Geographic location: Canada, United States, Germany Britain Europe

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