Time to Scrap Daylight Saving? 28 Countries May End DST

New Proposals to End Daylight Time

By Catherine Boeckmann
October 29, 2019
Clock in Grass
M.Vich/Shutterstock

It’s a popular myth that Daylight Saving Time is for farmers. This practice—which only became regular in 1966 (which may also surprise you!)—was challenged by farmers and is increasingly being challenged by modern society. In 2019, Europe voted to remove Daylight Saving Time (DST) by 2021. Some states have also questioned the practice. Read on …

Daylight Saving Time in the 1970s

When I grew up in the 1970s, Daylight Saving Time (DST) seemed popular. The government and schools seemed to promote it as a positive and beneficial force. When the clocks moved forward an hour in March, my mother would get a grumpy me out of bed and say, “Look! All you kids have more time after school to play outside!” (Yes, there was a time when more kids played outside.)

Interestingly, DST wasn’t a regular “thing” until April 12, 1966, when President Johnson signed it into law. The Uniform Time Act established a system of uniform (within each time zone) Daylight Saving Time throughout the U.S. and its possessions. States were allowed to opt out (and some did).

Before then, DST was briefly used during World War I and World War II to conserve fuel—and then there was a short stint during the oil crisis of the early 1970’s under Nixon. (Read more about the checkered history of Daylight Saving Time.)

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Photo credit: Billion Photos/Shutterstock

Daylight Saving is NOT for Farmers

Despite popular belief, DST has nothing to do with farming. In fact, farmers have often been the strongest lobby against the change. Farmers didn’t like DST when it was first introduced and most don’t like it to this day.

During the first World War I experiment in 1918, farmers were extremely opposed to having to turn back and forward their clocks. Not surprisingly, it disrupted their schedules and made it more difficult to get the most out of hired help.

Imagine telling a dairy cow used to being milked at 5 a.m. that their milking time needs to move back an hour before the milk truck is coming to do a pickup. For the farmer—and the plants and animals—it’s the sun and the seasons that determine the best times to do things.

After the war ended in 1918, the DST law (which lasted 7 months) proved so unpopular with our agrarian society, the federal law was repealed (in 1919). Some state and localities continued the observance.

In the early 1960s, observance of DST was quite inconsistent across U.S. states. Businesses and transportation companies pushed for standardization. The farmers, however, were opposed to it.

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Photo Credit: Zaccio/Shutterstock

Daylight Saving Extended in 2007

In 1986, DST began at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of April and ended at 2:00 a.m. on the last Sunday of October.

Beginning in 2007, Congress extended DST with the assumption that energy consumption would be reduced. 

In the United States—as well as Canada—Daylight Saving Time:

  • Ends at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of November (November 3 in 2019)
  • Begins at 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday of March (March 8 in 2020)

So, Who Benefits From Daylight Saving?

Some constituencies profit from changing our clocks. 

  • For example, today, we drive our cars everywhere. The lobbying groups for convenience stores know this—and pushed hard for daylight saving time to last as long as possible.
  • Extra daylight means more people shop in retail environments. Outdoor businesses such as golf courses and gardening supply stores report more profit with more daylight hours.  

Does DST really conserve energy? According to Congress, this is the main reason for the switch. When the Energy Policy Act extended the hours in 2007, Congress retained the right to revert back should the change prove unpopular or if energy savings are not significant. 

  • Department of Energy report from 2008 found that the extended DST put in place in 2005 saved about 0.5 percent in total electricity use per day. However, the closer you live to the equator, where the amount of daylight varies little, the amount of electricity actually increased after the clocks were switched.
  • In Indiana, where I live, the change to DST in 2006 actually cost us. Matthew Kotchen, a Yale economist, found a 1 percent increase in electricity use in Indiana. Due to higher electricity bills and more pollution, Indiana’s change ended up costing consumers $9 million per year.
  • Further studies in 2008 showed that Americans use more domestic electricity when they practice daylight saving.

Today, as modern society marches forward, the energy argument may become obsolete. In terms of work, we’re not really a 9 to 5 society any more. Factories have different shifts. Office workers use the internet. Farmers will use daylight hours, no matter what. At home, our electricity demand is no longer based on sunrises and sunsets. We drive instead of walking which means daylight saving actually increase gasoline. 

It’s quite possible we are now wasting energy. 

And with computers, TV screens, and air conditioning using more energy, more Americans find switching clocks increasingly unpopular.

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Our Bodies, Our Health

Energy isn’t the only thing to be considered. What about our health? Polls show that the switch between Daylight Saving Time and Standard Time each year is miserable for most humans.

Clocks are man-made. Changing the time disrupts our body clocks or circadian rhythm. For most people, the resulting tiredness is more of an inconvenience twice a year. For many folks, however, it’s a more serious issue.

  • Studies show it leads to more car accidents and heart attacks—the latter by as much as 24 percent.
  • Studies link the lack of sleep at the start of DST to workplace injuriessuicide, and miscarriages
  • In the workplace, studies have found that there is a decrease in productivity after the spring transition.
  • What about November when you get an extra hour of sleep? The reality is that most people don’t sleep extra. And the disruption in the body’s daily sleep-wake cycle can affect sleep for several days.

See 5 tips to help your body to adjust to Daylight Saving Time.

You could argue it’s better for school children (not going to school in the dark); however, I’d disagree.

  • Teenagers definitely don’t do well with DST during the spring change when they lose an hour of morning sleep.
  • And consider the parents with small children; the kid that gets up a 5 A.M. will now be getting up the equivalent of 4 A.M. Parents will certainly lose sleep and spend weeks adapting twice a year—and studies show that their happiness levels are lower.

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A Movement to Abolish DST

Congress allowed states to opt out of Daylight Saving Time—though they they did not allow states to make daylight saving permanent. Either option would mean no clock changes.

  • Most of Arizona does not change its clocks. Perhaps this makes sense given Arizona’s desert climate with hot temperatures and cool evenings.
  • Several states in New England—Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island—have created commissions or introduced proposals to have year-round DST. These areas deal with very early winter sunsets. In New Hampshire, where The Old Farmer’s Almanac is based—the Sun sets at 4:14 P.M. on December 1. See your sunrise/sunset times.
  • California has also considered abolishing the practice.
  • Last fall, the Florida Legislature passed the Sunshine Protection Act to make DST all-year-round—with overwhelming public support. That means no time changes with later sunsets (and later sunrises) all-year long. However, U.S. Congress has not yet approved Florida’s bill. (Remember: States can opt out of DST but they can’t go 100%.) When I think of my state of Indiana, which didn’t adopt DST until a decade or so ago, being out of sync with other time zones did create some problems attracting businesses to the state. 

As history tends to repeat itself, this issue of time zone coordination across the country is a clearly a factor. 

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Our European Counterparts

This brings us to our European contemporaries. They also practice Daylight Saving Time. For most of Europe, DST:

  • Begins at 1:00 a.m. GMT on the last Sunday of March
  • Ends at 1:00 a.m. GMT on the last Sunday of October

However, in 2019, Europe voted to end DST! Specifically, the European Parliament voted on March 26, 2019 in favor of removing Daylight Saving Time (DST) permanently by 2021.

That’s 28 member countries! Each member will have until April 2020 to decide whether to remain permanently on “summer time” or to change their clocks back one final time to permanent standard time, also known as “winter time.”

Other countries have already ended DST:

  • Argentina stopped daylight saving in 2009.
  • Russia ended its daylight saving in 2014.
  • Turkey ended DST permanently in 2016.

Just as is the case with North Americans, the EU population overwhelmingly wants to abolish DST. A poll was conducted in which 80% were in favor of eliminating it.

The head of the European Commission, which originally drafted the directive to end DST, said, “It would be pointless to ask for people’s opinions and not act on it if you don’t agree with them.”

I find it interesting that the Europeans—who first started DST (with North America following)—are now proposing the end of moving clocks twice a year.

What do you think about Daylight Saving Time? Tell us in the comments below!

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

DST

I would prefer to have Daylight Savings Time all year, but in any case just stick with one time or the other please.

DST vs Atlantic Time

Here in Maine, I believe that we should just change to Atlantic time with no more switching back and forth.

DST

Get rid of it. There are no benefits. It is simply disruptive.

End daylight savings time

As a teacher, I favor ending DST. Every spring I struggle to adjust for a few weeks. Before the time change in spring, I become accustomed to driving in morning light. Then change in time puts us commuters back in the dark.

I like DST

When we fall back I feel like it’s Christmas. I get up at what is now six am and it’s light out. I am well rested. I lived in Arizona for years where they don’t have DST. I hated it. It was pitch dark when my kids walked to the bus.

Dst

I'm in favor of keeping it year round daylight savings time.I deliver packages for a living and it's much easier to see a house in the daylight at 5:00 pm when it's light out not dark in the winter months

DST

Considering how the population of this planet is descending into chaos, and the massively devastating world war that is sure to follow, this is really a non-issue at this point in Human history!

We're all going to be forced back into the sundial era in the very near future, those of us that survive that is!

END DST

DST is about the stupidest thing our government has ever come up with. You still have the SAME number of daylight hours, no matter what the clocks say. As far as school... I started elementary school back in the 50's. The distance we lived from the school made us "walkers". I don't ever remember having to walk TO school in the dark or not having enough daylight walking home to stop at the creek and hunt to see what critters were still out and about.

Dst

We in California don’t like DST period!

Time changes

Just pick a time. Any time. And then leave it alone.

DST

It's time for DST to end! Or have DST all year round. Doesn't matter to me which one.

HATE

Set the time and leave it alone. I hate time changes, and anyone who likes them is not a smart person and should be sacked. :)

Daylight savings time

Abolish the whole thing. I don't care which one we stay with, just stay with one time.

DST

I do NOT like the time change leave it alone the time as it is in November is good

End DST

In my area, West Central Georgia, USA during DST children wait for and board their school bus in the dark. Very dangerous and so tough on early elementary schoolers! Adults seem to base their opinion on this subject on their preferences rather than considering the danger to the young students. End DST!

Daylight Sayings Time

I like The changing of the clocks both in the fall and spring. I prefer more daylight at the beginning of the day. The “fall back, spring forward” maximizes this.

DST

In Texas they are using the explanation for schools, the school buses say when they let them it is still daylight, well now when they pick them up it is pitch black. Some one needs to think of the health of the people. DST is not good for our health. The government is more concerned about retail then human beings.

DST

End it

DST Abolishment

I vote for year-round Standard Time. Late sunlight and late morning darkness do nothing but jeopardize early evening summer sleep and sleepy children on dark mornings in fall and winter. Just leave things alone to astronomical reality.

DST

End DST and stay on standard time year round.

DST

DST needs to end. Summer days never seem to end and you feel you need to be doing something all the time. By the time the sun sets, there is not much evening left to relax befire going to bed. I hate it.

DLS

I find DLS nonsense. We didn’t create time and we shouldn’t touch it. Think of the animals, farmers and our health before thinking about what it ‘might’ save us money wise. And apparently some states and countries even lose money by it. So please US and Canada, STOP DLS!!!

DST

Let our bodies naturally get accustomed
to the gradual light change. End DST !

DST

Except for the Sunday after the change the switch has little effect on me. But I would like to just pick one or the other and then leave it. There's no good reason for it anymore.

DST

I for one would like to do away with Day Light Saving Time. I see no benefit to it at all. It seems the rest of the world is coming to its senses and doing away with it too.
Put it on a November ballot and let America decide once and for all to keep or get rid of DST, with emergency exceptions.
Thank you.

Daylight Savings Time

No More ~ Leave the time the same all year.

Hate the switch to DST; prefer AST

I live in the Boston area and I much prefer Atlantic standard time, which is what we are on when we switch to daylight saving time. I get up very early for my job which means the first several hours of my day during winter are in darkness. So what? I’d rather that than darkness starting in late afternoon. Just like people complaining about snow and cold temperatures, if you want more daylight than New England offers, move closer to the equator.

To clarify

To be clear, what I’m suggesting is year-round Atlantic standard time. No time change at all.

Daylight Saving Time

I'm right there with you, Chip! When you look at a map, we in New England are more in line with the Maritime Provinces of Canada. I've never understood why we are in the same time zone as Michigan! Ridiculous! Give me Atlantic Time all the time!

abolishing DST

Since DST does not serve a purpose (for anyone), as well as not saving energy and actually hurting people, it should be abolished worldwide, most definitely in the US. Why do we do this to our bodies? It is not necessary, so let's get rid of it.

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