Time to Scrap Daylight Saving? 28 Countries May End DST.

New Proposals to End Daylight Time

By Catherine Boeckmann
November 3, 2018
Clock in Grass
M.Vich/Shutterstock

It’s a popular myth that Daylight Saving Time is for farmers—a myth that some of us were taught in schools. 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. Last month, Europeans changed their clocks back to standard time, possibly for the last time. Some states have also questioned the practice. Read on …

Daylight Saving Time in the 1970s

When I grew up in the 1970s, I remember Daylight Saving Time (DST) being 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!”  (As I consider my son’s 7th grade class, I ruefully think that this 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

The myth is strong with this one. 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 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 4 in 2018)
  • Begins at 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday of March (March 11 in 2019)

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. 

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  • 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, actually increased after the clocks were switched.
  • In Indiana, where I currently 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.
  • This 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, Congress has not 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 and
  • Ends at 1:00 a.m. GMT on the last Sunday of October

However, Europe recently proposed ENDING the clock-changing. This past September (2018), the European Commission proposed scrapping DST altogether for ALL of the European Union. That’s 28 member countries! If approved, the last EU-wide clock change would be on Sunday, March 31, 2019. (In reality, it will take some time for this legislation to get approved.)

Other countries have 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 overwhelming wants to abolish DST.  A poll was conducted in which 80% were in favor of eliminating it.

The head of the European Commission, which 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

Time changes.

I live in Florida and am not a morning person so I hope we get to stay on Daylight Savings Time.

I have lived in many places.

I have lived in many places...ABOLISH DST!!! Go to natural time

End DST

I think DST is the dumbest thing we have going for ourselves. To believe that somehow by changing our clocks we can gain more daylight is like saying I can move mountains. Leave it alone. Look outside. It's still light before we "fall back." It's there. God created it. It serves no purpose but to upset my circadian clock and that of many others who want to be done with it.

@Joan....my, my......quite

@Joan....my, my......quite full of ourselves, aren't we........it's so comforting to know that YOUR opinion is the only one that matters..........N O T !!!!!!!!!!

DST

It is way past time to abolish this practice!! We are using more energy . Doesn't make any sense any longer!!!

Scrapping Daylight Saving Time

I've always hated DST, maybe after the midterms, we can convince Congress to scrap DST in all of the US for all eternity, after all, doing away with DST is safer for schoolkids.

End Daylight Savings Time

I believe during the 1980's when President Reagan was in office, DST was suspended--I don't recall if it was for one year or longer. At any rate, it may have served its purpose during the wartime years of WWI and WWII--but enough is enough already!! Nobody has yet provided me with an intelligent explanation as to why we should keep it. Get rid of Daylight Savings Time!!

My favorite argument against

My favorite argument against DST: A letter to the editor protested that "this extra hour of sunlight is killing our grass!"

DST

DST should be abolished. Time isn't saved with DST. It's like cutting off the top of a blanket and sewing it to the bottom of the same blanket. It's the same 24 hours in one 24 hour period. Let's stay with Standard time.

DST - how do we make it stop??

I am all for permanently stopping Daylight Savings Time. HOW do I go about helping to make this change? What do I need to do?

Scrapping Daylight Saving Time

After the midterms, start a letter writing campaign to your State and US Senators and House Delegates. State your case clearly and precisely, and it wouldn't hurt to mention that doing away with DST will save lives, especially those of schoolkids who may have to cross dark streets to get to their bus stops.

DST

I always figured we used more energy because of changing clocks. It's good to see scientific studies to back up my thoughts.

If retail likes DST and wants to keep it, why can't they just adjust their operating hours. Who says that a store has to be open 9 am to 9 pm all year-round? Why can't they have summer hours and winter hours? Why do we have to be slaves to big business, who is only trying to squeeze every penny they can out of us?

Big Business Houurs

I agree with the comment on having big business change their operating hours. Who's driving the bus? Us or them?

DST

It doesn’t matter whether it’s DST or Standard time, it just needs to be the same year round.

DST year round

Exactly. Maybe look at sunrise and sunset at winter solstice and use that to decide which to use, and then keep it that way year round.

DST

It doesn’t matter whether it’s DST or Standard time, it just needs to be the same year round.

Daylight savings

I think it should have never began and I think it should be ended changing the clocks back one hour forward one hour I think it needs to end this year if not next year it does not make no sense

DLT

Keep DLT YEAR ROUND , get up at sunrise, and wind down at sunset. Enjoy your day , get over it, live by the sun, not by your clock.

Lets end it I never liked the

Lets end it I never liked the spring change ! Lancaster,Pa

DST

Yes! Please end it. I wish we could have clocks that automatically follow the average sunrise/sunset times per region. That would be most in tune with our body clocks and would truly give us the maximum daylight during our natural wake times. But that would introduce any number of other complications, so no hope for that (yet).

Complications?

What complications? You mean the trucking industry might have to adjust their schedules so they can pick-up and deliver on a different schedule than today? You mean retail might have to adjust their operating hours depending on what time of year it is? You mean the energy companies might not make as much money because we won't need as much electricity to light our homes?

Why are we being a slave to people who want to make money off us? Our health and well-being are the most important.

DST Complications

All that and more. The amount of daylight each day changes differently from location to location and from day to day. As businesses change operating hours, they also change the amount of time their employees are getting paid for. That means people get paid differently through the year and constantly have to adjust their budgets. It cascades into every facet of life, so it won't happen easily, but I think that once we eventually learn to operate on farmer's clocks, we'll find most of the worries will resolve themselves.

It's well worth doing for our health and well being.

Being slaves to the economy is a bigger issue yet, but if we can handle things like this clock nonsense in a healthy and intelligent manner, we'll fix that, too -- one bite at a time.

Scrapping Daylight Saving Time

You can thank Samuel Pierpont Langley (Google him) for the different time zones and it's a great idea, it keeps trains from bumping into each other, but he had nothing to do with the useless practice of DST as we've just read. It's interesting to note that Samuel Pierpont Langley invented the first airplane to fly under its' own power 8 years before the Wright brothers which is why we have Langley AFB, Langley, VA, the Navy's first aircraft carrier, CVA 1, was the USS Langley, and there are schools named after him. I just couldn't stop myself on this.

Daylight savings

I prefer it!! I think we should stay on daylight savings. We are people who like being outside after work & school. The change on the body is no different then traveling to a different time zone (jet lag) I personally love when we change in the spring! Fall I hate......

I prefer Daylight Savings time!

I totally agree with the commenter who prefers Daylight Savings Time! I, too, am an outdoors person, and thrive on having the extra daylight hours at the end of the day. I have trouble with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and do better with more daylight in the afternoon. I live in New Jersey and would love to have DSA all year round, as my New England counterparts are considering.

DST

Need to stop this practice. Time is man made but it’s set......changing it’s been proven ineffective, confusing, and more trouble than it’s worth.

Day Light Savings

This is a dumb practice to follow. All it does is mess up our bodies. It really has NO purpose!!!

DLS

One thing not mentioned is the folks that go to work at 5AM if your a grownup it's real hard to have sunset at 10 pm in southern states and go to bed before dark sets in, but still have to be up at 3:30 or 4 AM to get ready for work. If you go to bed at 11-12 am you are way short on sleep all summer.

DST

Why not leave the clocks alone, and change the order of operations? Businesses and schools can have "winter hours" and "spring hours"... if they choose.

Daylight Savings Time

PLEASE, PLEASE get rid of DST‼️ Our internal clocks are set the day we are born & the practice Of DST goes against every grain of our being & is unhealthy!

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