Daylight saving time is returning, bringing with it an extra hour of sunshine in the evening. Standard time will return at 2 a.m. Nov. 2.
At 2 a.m. Sunday, March 9, Pinellas County will join in a time-honored tradition of setting the clocks ahead one hour.
Yes, daylight saving time is returning, bringing with it an extra hour of sunshine in the evening. Standard time will return at 2 a.m. Nov. 2.
Daylight saving time is part of a federal law, the Standard Time Act, which includes a daylight-saving measure that essentially moves an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening.
Congress started changing time as a way to save energy, especially during the two World Wars; however, its effect on energy use today is a matter of debate.
Prior to 1883, time revolved around the sun. Cities and communities relied on solar clocks and sundials to synchronize events. Most historians credit the railroads with making the move toward standardizing time due to the need to keep to a schedule. The railroads first used time zones in 1883. In 1884, the system of international standard time was adopted.
But just because the railroads used a time system didn’t mean the concept was embraced by everybody. However, as communication and travel methods improved, it soon became more practical for people to use a measure of time that was standard.
In 1918, Congress passed the Standard Time Act, using the time zones set up by the railroads. The Department of Transportation, created in 1966, is responsible for keeping time and has granted several requests for time zone changes over the years.
What about daylight saving time?
Some credit the original idea of daylight saving time to Benjamin Franklin who wrote an essay in 1784, on the thrift of natural versus artificial lighting. The Standard Time Act passed on March 18, 1918, established both standard and daylight saving time.
Daylight saving time was repealed in 1919, and local governments were allowed to decide whether to continue the use of the daylight-saving measure.
World War II triggered a return daylight saving time to save energy. Daylight saving time was in effect year-round from Feb. 9, 1942, to Sept. 20, 1945. After the war, time became a matter of local choice until 1966.
Congress passed the Uniform Time Act of 1966, which established a beginning date of the last Sunday in April and an ending date of the last Sunday in October for daylight saving time in the United States. Local jurisdictions could still decide whether to use it.
Then in 1973, Congress enacted the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act in response to the oil embargo in the early 1970s. By 1974, almost all of U.S. states observed daylight saving time from Jan. 6 to Oct. 27, and in 1975, from Feb. 23 to Oct. 26. In 1976, the starting date changed back to the date established in 1966.
In 1986, federal law was amended to shift the beginning of daylight saving time to the first Sunday in April and the end to the last Sunday in October. The last shift came when Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which moved the start of daylight saving time to the second Sunday in March and the end to the first Sunday in November.
Purpose of daylight saving time
Daylight saving time has traditionally been considered an energy saving measure. The purpose of its use during World War I and World War II was to decrease the amount of time that people needed to burn electricity for light.
According to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which extended daylight saving time by four weeks, would reduce energy consumption by the "equivalent of 100,000 barrels of oil for each day of the extension. Studies indicate that the proposal to adopt daylight saving time from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November would also lower crime and traffic fatalities and allow for more recreation time and increased economic activity."
Today, experts seem to be in disagreement about the effectiveness of the time change on energy consumption. They say that new studies are needed to determine if daylight saving time truly makes a difference in this modern age of electronics.
Some say regardless of energy needs, the extra hour of daylight in the evening is better to allow people to take care of business and take part in recreational activities after they get off work. Most don’t have time to run errands, exercise, do the shopping and take care of chores before work in the morning. They say it is good for the economy and tourism, which is important in states like Florida.
Others argue that the twice-a-year reset of the body’s internal clock is a bad thing as people battle sleepiness and fatigue for two to three weeks after the change. They blame the change on an increase in traffic crashes, workplace accidents and poor performance by students.
Health officials generally recommend that adults get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Nine hours are recommended for teens. Studies show that more than ever, Americans aren’t getting enough sleep. Experts argue that the switch to daylight saving time in the spring, which reduces sleep time by an hour, can be difficult for those most sleep-deprived.
Smoke alarms and irrigation timers
Local fire officials use the time change to remind people to replace the batteries in their smoke detectors. Officials estimate that about 90 percent of homes in the United States have smoke detectors; however about 30 percent have dead or missing batteries.
And don’t forget to reset irrigation timers. Pinellas County residents can water their lawns and landscapes before 8 a.m. and after 6 p.m. and can be fined for watering outside the allowed hours.