Why Do We Spring Forward this Sunday?

It’s time to change those clocks this weekend. But have you ever wondered WHY?

Daylight Saving Time for the United States  and its territories, is NOT observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and by most of Arizona (with the exception of the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona).

One of the biggest reasons we change our clocks to Daylight Saving Time (DST) is that it saves energy. Energy use and the demand for electricity for lighting our homes is directly related to when we go to bed and when we get up. Bedtime for most of us is late evening through the year.  When we go to bed, we turn off the lights and TV.

In the average home, 25 percent of all the electricity we use is for lighting and small appliances, such as TVs, DVRs and stereos. A good percentage of energy consumed by lighting and appliances occurs in the evening when families are home. By moving the clock ahead one hour, we can cut the amount of electricity we consume each day.

We also use less electricity because we are home fewer hours during the “longer” days of spring and summer. Most people plan outdoor activities in the extra daylight hours. When we are not at home, we do not turn on the appliances and lights. A poll done by the U.S. Department of Transportation indicated that Americans liked Daylight Saving Time because “there is more light in the evenings / can do more in the evenings.”

Daylight Saving Time is a change in the standard time of each time zone. Time zones were first used by the railroads in 1883 to standardize their schedules. According to the The Canadian Encyclopedia Plus by McClelland & Stewart Inc., Canada’s “[Sir Sandford] Fleming also played a key role in the development of a worldwide system of keeping time. Trains had made obsolete the old system where major cities and regions set clocks according to local astronomical conditions. Fleming advocated the adoption of a standard or mean time and hourly variations from that according to established time zones. He was instrumental in convening an International Prime Meridian Conference in Washington in 1884 at which the system of international standard time, still in use today, was adopted.”

Source:  ” Daylight saving time, its history and why we use it.” 8 March 2013. http://www.nationalatlas.gov/articles/boundaries/a_savingtime.html   Adapted from Aldrich, Bob, 2005, Saving Time, Saving Energy: California Energy Commission.

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