If that hour you lost last March when we set our clocks ahead one hour is stuck in your craw, take heart, you’re getting it back soon.
Daylight saving time (DST) ends at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6. At that time, you’ll need to set your clocks back (remember “fall back”) one hour.
Why do we use this system of “spring forward” and “fall back” when it comes to our clocks? Here’s a look at the history of DST.
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. Arizona, Hawaii and several U.S. 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?
On March 15, the Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021. If the bill is passed by the House and signed by the president, it would move forward by one hour what is currently considered standard time by the federal government.
That change would happen beginning in November 2023.
In the last few years, 18 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 18 states that have passed laws or resolutions in support of a permanent DST are Alabama, Georgia, Minnesota, Mississippi and Montana (2021). Idaho, Louisiana, Ohio (resolution), South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming (2020). Delaware, Maine, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington (2019), and Florida (2018); California voters also authorized such a change that year, but legislative action is pending. Some states have commissioned studies on the topic, including Massachusetts (2017) and Maine (2021).
The U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands observe permanent standard time.
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