If you are a fan of more light in the afternoon, take heart; your time is coming. Daylight saving time, that is.
On Sunday March 13 at 2 a.m., most of America will “spring forward” as clocks are set up an hour for the beginning of daylight saving time.
While many look forward to more daylight hours in the afternoon, more states are questioning the wisdom of twice-a-year time changes (remember, we “fall back” in November). Why do we spring forward? Is it really necessary to fall back?
Here’s a look at why we started using DST and why we continue to do it.
How it started
We can blame New Zealand entomologist George Hudson for daylight saving time. He wanted extra hours after work to go bug hunting, according to National Geographic, so he came up with the idea of just moving the hands on the clock.
William Willett, who is the great-great-grandfather of the band Coldplay’s Chris Martin, arrived at the same idea a few years later and proposed moving the clock forward in the spring and back in the fall in his work, “British Summer Time.”
Willett’s idea was picked up a few years later by the Germans who used it during World War I as a way to save on coal use. Other countries would soon follow suit, most with the idea it would be a cost-saving measure.
President Woodrow Wilson agreed that DST was a good idea and in 1918, he signed legislation that would shift the country to the new time system.
Why did the U.S. make the change?
The idea of setting clocks ahead in the spring was pitched as a way to help farmers with crops and harvesting. In reality, it was retailers who were behind the push for adjusting clocks, looking for another hour of shopping time in the afternoon and evenings.
While most of the country and about 40% of the world use DST, there are some exceptions. Two states – Arizona and Hawaii – and several territories don’t fall back or spring forward with DST.
Arizona has not observed DST since 1967 when they filed for an exemption under the DST exemption statute. Hawaii, too, opted out under the exemption. The state has never used DST.
Will we keep it?
It’s likely that most U.S. states will continue the practice of changing the clock twice a year at least for a while, though some state legislatures have discussed ending the practice.
In the last three years, 13 states have enacted legislation to provide for year-round daylight saving time if Congress were to allow such a change and, in some cases, if surrounding states enact the same legislation. Full-time DST is not currently allowed by federal law and would require an act of Congress to make a change.
The 13 states are:
- In 2020: Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming.
- In 2019: Arkansas, Delaware, Maine, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington.
- In 2018: Florida (California voters authorized such a change in 2018, but legislative action is still pending).
While states are able to pass laws to determine if they want to spring forward and fall back, they must get approval from Congress to make the change.