Daylight Savings Time (DST) in most of the United States starts on the 2nd Sunday in March and ends on the 1st Sunday in November. Remember to set your clocks ahead by one hour.
The History of Daylight Savings Time
Daylight savings time is very controversial.
The idea of saving daylight in America comes to us directly from the great American inventor, philosopher, and political figure Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin Franklin went on many trips to Europe as a delegate of the new nation of America. During one of these trips, specifically while he was in Paris in 1784, he wrote an essay called An Economical Project.
In this essay, Franklin figured out and explained how much money Americans could save on things like candle wax, wicks for candles, lamps, and oil for those lamps if Americans would simply move an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening time. It was little more than a quick study in economics, an intellectual exercise. It is doubtful that Franklin thought his idea would catch on.
Why Daylight Savings Was a Popular Idea
Though Franklin’s idea didn’t catch on in his time, the idea of daylight savings time grew popular in other parts of the world in the decades after Franklin’s essay.
A London architect and inventor named William Willett wrote an essay called Waste of Daylight in 1907 that echoed Franklin’s theories on how much money could be saved by shifting a little daylight around. Willett’s idea was to move all the clocks of England ahead 20 minutes every Sunday in April and then compensating by taking twenty minutes back from the clocks every Sunday in September.
His essay became as popular among the English as Franklin’s had among American inventors a few decades before. A quote from Willett’s essay explains his theory in plain English:
William Willett, Waste of Daylight, 1907
“Everyone appreciates the long, light evenings. Everyone laments their shortage as Autumn approaches; and everyone has given utterance to regret that the clear, bright light of an early morning during Spring and Summer months is so seldom seen or used.”
How Daylight Savings Came to America
Saving daylight was not the invention of one man or the idea of one government. It was meant to save money for the war effort, and became unpopular once the war was over.
In 1918, towards the end of the first world war, an act of Congress was passed “to preserve daylight and provide standard time for the United States.” This law made time zones in America a standard and also set the official dates and times of daylight savings. The very next year, congress got rid of the law and made the official Daylight Savings Time change an option that each state could take up for itself.
About Daylight Savings Time
Historically, there were no uniform rules for DST from 1945 to 1966. This caused widespread confusion, especially in transport and broadcasting. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 aligned the switch dates across the USA for the first time.
After the energy crisis was over in 1976, the DST schedule in the US was revised several times. From 1987 to 2006, the country observed DST for about 7 months each year.
The current schedule was introduced in 2007 and follows the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
According to section 110 of the act, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) governs the use of DST. The law does not affect the rights of the states and territories that choose not to observe DST.