Blog: Clocks ‘spring forward’ this weekend - What to know about Daylight Saving Time

Sunshine Protection act reintroduced to congress
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 5:21 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Clocks across the country will “spring forward” this weekend, entering into the period known as Daylight Saving Time (DST).

Each year on the second Sunday of March, clocks turn from 2 AM to 3 AM. For a stretch of nearly eight months, the majority of the US will remain in DST before returning to Standard Time (SDT) on the first Sunday of November.

The early-morning timing was chosen in order to minimize disruption. Most people were at home at this time and the fewest trains were running.

Daylight saving this weekend
Daylight saving this weekend(WVUE)

Not every state observes Daylight Saving Time, with most of Hawaii and Arizona opting out of the change. Until 2006, the state of Indiana was a battleground for the use of DST. The two western corners of the state, located in the Central Time Zone, observed DST while the rest of the state remained in Standard Time year round. A few counties unofficially began to observe DST near Cincinnati and Louisville in an attempt to synchronize with them. Indiana legislature passed a law to enact DST after years of controversy.

The United States is not the only country to utilize DST to extend afternoon daylight time. This year, 72 countries observe DST. But this is not the majority, with 106 countries never observing DST and 71 no longer using the time change. Many of the countries that do observe a form of DST have different change dates and times.

Not all Americans are on board with the yearly time change. A 2014 Rasmussen Report found that only 33% of Americans see the purpose of DST. So why the disagreement? Changing clocks to be one hour later doesn’t add an extra hour of daylight, but it does change the time of the sunrise and sunset.

Those in favor of DST argue that the extra daylight time in the evening allows people to get out of the house after work, therefore encouraging an active lifestyle. The tourism industry and local businesses also benefit from the later light, giving people more time to go shopping, to restaurants and boost the local economy.

Another aspect of the DST argument pertains to energy savings, one of the original uses of DST. In the 1900s, DST was said to save energy by minimizing the usage time of artificial light. In today’s society, we use so much energy through televisions, computers and air conditioning that there is not a large difference in energy saving. This is especially true for locations closer to the tropics whose daylight variability is smaller.

Some areas farther North do benefit in energy savings from the later daylight hours due to more variability in daylight length. A study done by the US Department of Transportation found in a 1975 study that the observance of DST does decrease electricity usage by a small amount.

Daylight Saving Time not only impacts our health positively by boosting people’s mental health and time to do activities, but it can have the opposite effect on our physical health. Studies have shown that the lack of sleep can lead to an increase in car accidents and workplace incidents as well as suicides and miscarriages. The risk of having a heart attack also increases upon entering DST.

The argument about whether or not the US should continue its use of DST has reached the congressional level. A bill entitled the Sunshine Protection Act was introduced to the Senate by Florida Senator Marco Rubio in 2022 and passed, but failed in the House. Rubio has once again introduced the act in 2023 which would keep Daylight Saving Time year round.

Permanent time change
Permanent time change(WVUE)

Keeping DST all year would cause noticeable differences in the winter months, especially for locations in the northern parts of the country. The areas farthest to the north would have sunrise times after 10 AM at some point during the winter months, while much of the country would see times after 7:30 AM. A large portion of the country would see sunsets after 6 PM for the majority of the year.

Winter sunrise times in permanent DST
Winter sunrise times in permanent DST(WVUE)

On the other hand, a switch to Standard Time year round would lead to sunrise times as early as 4:30 AM during the summer months in some areas of the US. The sunset times would be earlier year round with less daytime in the afternoon and early evening during the summer.

Summer sunrise times in permanent Standard Time
Summer sunrise times in permanent Standard Time(WVUE)

For now, don’t forget to change your clocks forward one hour this Sunday morning - and change the batteries in your smoke alarm while you’re at it.

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