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ended in 1918, the DST law (which lasted 7 months) proved so unpopular with our agrarian society, the federal law was repealed (in 1919).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

True, but ....

True, that the number of hours the sun shines does not change. However, as most people work, go shopping, or go to school, and employers, retailers, and schools don't change their hours, that means kids and adults have to walk to work, the store, or school in the dark because we changed our clocks by an hour causes me concern.

DST

Yes I agree we should have DST all year...

Abolish dst

Easy to set clocks but our bodies are used to routines.

Abolish dst

Easy to set clocks but our bodies are used to routines.

Stop Daylight Savings Time Changes

Hate it. Outdated and nonsensical. The sun will come up and go down when it does. Why throw our biological rhythms off twice a year?

DST

I believe there is only one correct/natural way and that is leaving the Standard Time in place at all times. I do not like DST.

Hate DST

My body does not like DST, I don't see any real advantage of having it. I really hate the fact that kids are disrupted in their sleep patterns and I have found that the older I get, the harder it is on my body. Texas, please abolish DST!

Daylight savings time

I have long desired for daylight savings time to be ended.

DST

I would like to see DST ended for good. It does not appear to benefit anyone. It is confusing and takes time for adjustment twice a year. It would be better to just stay on standard time all the time.

DST

Makes no sense. Changing clocks twice a year was a nuisance when my kids were babies - and is more problematic for retirees. I say abolish the practice!

DST

I so agree with getting rid of Daylight Saving Time, I for sure don't really get extra sleep, just loose time reseting all the clocks on the stove, coffee makers, microwaves and all the other dumb thing around the house.

DST

I hate it. It should be abolished!

Time changes

I wish in the spring when it goes forward that it would just be left alone. It disrupts people and pets as well. The government needs to stay out of certain things and this is one of them!

Ban DST - Times have changed!

I haven’t found one person that understands, agrees, likes or is in favor of daylight savings time”.
What is more frustrating to me, is that out of all the time spent on this ridiculous topic, not one push is made on Congress to abolish this law. Perhaps this action too, will fall in the category of nothing gets done by Congress. If that remains true, then we all should push our State legislators to take advantage of the current law and opt out of this “government knows best” idea.
A well known company coined the slogan... Just Do It!
Come on legislators... listen to your electors and JUST DO IT!,

DST

DST should be abolished ASAP

DST

I have never liked DST. It's difficult getting used to the time changes. I never seem to get enough sleep. Down with Day Light Savings Time... Keep Standard Time year round.

Stop the madness!

I suffer from night vision problems so I enjoy the extra hour of daylight. Either way, I'm sick of moving my clocks backward and forward. Pick a time and leave it be!

DST

Abolish it

Pennsylvania should opt out if the feds disagree

DST

I want the natural time back..I don't like the change. Causes problems adjusting many situations that are on a schedule to then have to change that schedule for a few months. Upsetting, tiring and disgusting.

DST

People complain the DTS is not healthily what about the number of people who work shift work and change their sleeping habits weekly is that ruining their health less or more than DST THINKE ABOUT IT. IT IS STUIPED if DTS effects the health then more are effect because of shift work and you never here any thing about it causing health problems or accidents Etc.

accidents

Yes there are, Al. There are "significantly more fatal accidents" the day after the change. They won't let me post the link, but this is the title: You can google search it: Fatal accidents following changes in daylight savings time: the American experience.

DST

Absolutely hate it! It is so hard on everyone in the spring and in the fall I don't feel like I "gain" an hour of sleep at all! How do we abolish it? Who do we contact?

DST

Absolutely hate it! It is so hard on everyone in the spring and in the fall I don't feel like I "gain" an hour of sleep at all! How do we abolish it? Who do we contact?

DST

Absolutely hate it! It is so hard on everyone in the spring and in the fall I don't feel like I "gain" an hour of sleep at all! How do we abolish it? Who do we contact?

DST

Absolutely hate it! It is so hard on everyone in the spring and in the fall I don't feel like I "gain" an hour of sleep at all! How do we abolish it? Who do we contact?

DST

Absolutely hate it! It is so hard on everyone in the spring and in the fall I don't feel like I "gain" an hour of sleep at all! How do we abolish it? Who do we contact?

END DST

DST was a stupid idea from he get go. If you want to take advantage of the light early in the day just get up earlier! It's not exactly rocket science...

I vote to ditch Daylight Savings Time

The only saving grace to DST is that kids can begin their Trick-or-Treating before it gets so dark.
I'm always grateful when Standard Time returns, and I am able to regain my hour of lost sleep.
Also, DST with the region is often input as the Standard time acronym: e.g., CST and not CDT.

daylight savings time

I say stop the twice- yearly time change as people and animals are entirely disrupted.

Day light saving time

I hate it. Please let stop changing our clock. I like to stay on the summer time schedule. I like it lighter longer in the evenings.

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