As I write this I am sitting in Arizona. It will be the first time in my life that I will not “fall back” in time at the end of daylight saving time (DST).
A few times in my lifetime, the change occurred on my birthday weekend, which extended the party an hour longer. But now it just means we must change all our devices. Not too long ago, those devices amounted to a clock or two on the wall, a watch, and an alarm clock. But now we have those plus the microwave, computers, cell phones, Fitbit, Apple watches, tablets, and all the other gadgets that need to know what time it is.
Did you ever consider that in the U.S. we go back an hour on the first Sunday in November at 2:00 a.m., but in the European Union it happens at 1:00 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time, the last Sunday in October and all at the same moment no matter the time zone?
So comes the age-old question, “Does anyone really know what time it is?”
I am feeling a bit special when you consider who opted out of observing DST. In the U.S., it’s Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and Arizona.
However, the Navajo Nation does participate in DST policy because it reaches into three states, including Arizona.
Who started this daylight saving time craziness?
A London builder, William Willet, was riding his horse in 1907 early one morning and noticed shutters were still closed even though the sun was shining. He wrote a manifesto, “The Waste of Daylight,” and began a light-saving campaign.
Willet wrote: “Everyone appreciates the long light evenings. Everyone laments their shrinkage as Autumn approaches, and nearly everyone has given utterance to a regret that the clear bright light of early morning, during Spring and Summer months, is so seldom seen or used. … That so many as 154 hours of daylight are, to all intents and purposes, wasted every year, is a defect in our civilisation. Let Great Britain and Ireland recognise, and remedy it.”
It took a war to get the world to listen. Germany was first to adopt a system in 1915 to save fuel during World War I. Then came the British Summer Time in 1916 that put clocks an hour ahead from May 21 to October 1. The United States followed in 1918, but with great opposition. But the idea of energy conservation when we entered the war seemed like a good idea.
The first daylight saving time in the U.S. lasted seven months
But it only lasted about seven months. The law was repealed in 1920. At least 28 bills were presented to repeal daylight saving time with strong support from the farming and ranching communities.
The law kept going through various changes over the years. It came back during WWII to save energy once again. States were choosing their own start and end dates, which messed with interstate bus and train schedules.
U.S. Congress approved a bill to increase the DST time frame to start the first Sunday in April. Their goal was to conserve oil in electricity generation, which amounted to 300,000 barrels a year.
The current daylight saving time period was established with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which went into effect in 2007. The farming lobby continues to protest.
Tips for changing the clocks
- Use your computer time to set the rest of your clocks. It should be synced with UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) National Insitute of Standards and Technoloty (NIST), or “UTC(NIST)”, the U.S. national standard for time-of-day, time interval, and frequency. Be sure it is set to update automatically – but you need to be connected to the internet to make it happen.
- Your phone has the option to update automatically and have a selected time zone. It too needs to connect to the internet to work. But if you are a full-time traveler, this option may not help you.
- If you use a Fitbit or similar type of device, you may need to log into the app on your phone to make the changes.
- If you still rely on an alarm clock, double-check to make sure your set times are accurate.
- Change the clocks on your kitchen appliances such as your oven and microwave. Those won’t adjust on their own.
We have changed our fair share of time throughout the year as we travel around to different time zones. Sometimes we question what time it is because some devices will change automatically, and others have a mind of their own.
If you are in a DST zone, enjoy your extra hour. And remember to change out the batteries in your smoke detectors.