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Daylight Saving Time, everything you didn't know

May 19, 2024~5 mins read time

cover photo for blog

Make no mistake, it's the official naming: ‘Saving’ not ‘Savings’


What is Daylight Saving Time?

Daylight saving time (DST), is the practice of advancing clocks forward one hour during the warmer months of the year in order to shift daylight hours.



Why the Clocks Change in Summer

The clocks change in summer to extend evening daylight. This shift allows people to enjoy more daylight in the evening hours, which can lead to reduced energy consumption as people rely less on artificial lighting and heating. The idea is to make the best use of daylight and to align working hours with daylight hours.



The History of Daylight Saving Time.

  • Origins of Daylight Saving Time

    Daylight saving time was first suggested by Benjamin Franklin. However, it was not clear if he was been serious or sarcastic about it. Back then it was about saving candle wax, amongst other factors. It became an official law in 1916, first adopted in Germany. Within a few weeks, the United Kingdom, France, and many other countries followed and the eternal debate began.

  • Evolution and Adoption

    After World War I, many countries abandoned DST, only to reinstate it during World War II for similar reasons. The practice has since seen various levels of adoption and repeal across the globe, with some regions opting out altogether.


If you are more of a visual person, here is the best overview I found by National Geographic.



Are We Really Saving?

DST is actually only adopted by less than 50% of the world.

And although the main advantage of adopting it is claimed to be ‘Savings’ - in electricity, not wax, in our day and age-, outcomes from studies are very mixed. It is only true that you can ‘save’ on bills if you go out. Otherwise, the consumption of heating and air conditioning tends to go up. There is, however, a benefit that needs no debate. Not surprisingly, it is commerce. More time for people to shop, more profits.



Now here are some key facts, so you can decide for yourself:


  • DST has significant impacts on health. Here is a popular podcast by Samer Hattar & Andrew Huberman discussing how it disturbs our natural rhythms.


  • Reduction of robberies. Specifically, it is estimated more than a 25% drop in robberies following the spring shift to DST.

  • A spike in traffic accidents in the week after the spring shift to DST, with upwards of a 6% increase in fatal crashes.

  • Public Opinion and Policy Changes: Public opinion on Daylight Saving Time is divided. Some people appreciate the extended daylight in the evenings, while others find the time changes disruptive. As a result, several regions and countries have debated or enacted policies to abolish DST. For example, the European Union has proposed ending the practice, allowing member states to choose whether to keep DST permanently or standard time year-round.

  • Impact on Technology: The time change can cause issues with technology, leading to software updates and adjustments. Calendar appointments, clocks, and various devices need to be synchronized to avoid confusion.



Dates, Times, and Time Zone Changes: Consistency and Variations

When and how Daylight Saving Time changes occur in different parts of the world. Daylight Saving Time (DST) generally follows a consistent schedule each year, but the specific dates can vary slightly. Here's how it works:


Consistency in Dates

  • United States and Canada: DST starts on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. This pattern repeats every year, ensuring that the change happens on a Sunday, minimizing disruption to the weekday schedules.

  • European Union: DST starts on the last Sunday in March and ends on the last Sunday in October. This system is also consistent annually, aligning with the European time change conventions.

  • Australia: DST starts on the first Sunday in October and ends on the first Sunday in April. These dates remain the same every year, providing predictability for planning and scheduling.

  • New Zealand: DST starts on the last Sunday in September and ends on the first Sunday in April. This regular pattern helps with yearly planning and adaptation.



    an image of a sunset with a clock on the backround

Variations and Exceptions

While many regions adhere to a consistent schedule, there are notable exceptions and variations:

  • Non-Observance: Some regions and countries do not observe DST at all. For instance, most of Arizona and Hawaii in the United States, parts of Canada (like most of Saskatchewan), and some Australian states (like Queensland and Western Australia) do not change their clocks.

  • Different Start and End Dates: Some countries observe DST but with different start and end dates compared to the more common schedules. For example, in the Middle East, DST can start in different months, often adjusted for religious or cultural reasons.

  • Changes in Policy: Occasionally, governments may change the start and end dates of DST or decide to abolish it altogether. For example, the European Union has considered abolishing DST, though as of now, it still follows the traditional schedule.



Conclusion

Daylight Saving Time is a practice steeped in history and controversy. While it aims to make better use of daylight and conserve energy, the actual benefits and drawbacks continue to be debated. Understanding the origins, reasons, and impacts of DST can help us navigate this biannual event more effectively.


When we lose an hour during the start of Daylight Saving Time, many of us notice the negative effects, such as disrupted sleep patterns, increased stress, and even a rise in accidents. However, when we gain an hour in the fall, the opposite can occur, with significant reductions in accidents and added health benefits. Despite these mixed effects, the practice of changing the clocks twice a year can add more hassle and disruption than the benefits it claims to provide. Personally, I think Daylight Saving Time brings more inconvenience than savings. What are your thoughts? Do you find DST beneficial, or do you think it's time for a change?




Avoid the time zone confusion by using our free and visual time zone convertor here.

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Sofia Kyriazidi

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