Time to Scrap Daylight Saving? 28 Countries May End DST

New Proposals to End Daylight Time

By Catherine Boeckmann
October 17, 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 October, 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

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, 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, Europe recently proposed ENDING the clock-changing. In September 2018, the European Commission proposed scrapping DST altogether for ALL of the European Union. That’s 28 member countries! The directive was approved with a great majority (410 to 192) in March 2019, but the switchover won’t kick in for two years. Member countries that wish to stay on DST permanently will make their final switch in March 2021, and those that prefer to keep standard time will make their last change in October of that year.

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 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 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 support scrapping it. Nature dictates activities af the day!

DST

we no longer need it !!! i agree to have it stopped..

DST

I agree ,, by scraping it we might all do better with many aspects of our lives .
Be sides changes by the government's or people of influence generally have the general publics best interest in mind .

DST

Abolish, please.

DST

Abolish, please.

DST

Do away with it. It is absolutely pointless.

DST

I agree, get rid of it... you can't "save" daylight.

It's a ruse.
.

DST - abolish already!!

I am one of those people who is greatly affected by the 'jump ahead' notion in the spring. It's so ridiculous and needs to be stopped. Let's take our hour back and just leave it alone. Take extra Vitamin D in the winter for your S.A.D. symptoms, has always helped me immensely. The government already does enough damage, stop screwing with my sleep and mental well-being!!

DST

Amen, Brother... amen!
.

DST

Please let’s stop daylight savings time!

DST

I like it because the elderly can drive longer at night. Usually they don’t drive in the dark. Also, getting more outside work accomplished is beneficial to us.

DST

All well and good, get out of bed an hour earlier and get your tools ready to give it 9-1/2 hours, IN DAYLIGHT. It's lazy people who rejoice and whine, respectively. [g]
.

DST

I always have a hard time adjusting to DST. It's probably hardest in the spring. It usually takes me a week or more to adjust. I really dislike having my body be out of whack twice a year!

Daylight savings time

I think there is enough data to support this practice is counterproductive. Let’s stop it.

time

Man insists on manipulating everything. Time is just one of these. Leave it alone.

Dst

I say let's scrap it no longer needed

DST~

I was never bothered by this change myself, and some clocks today are digital and can re-program themselves. The downside for most people is the abrupt change of light to dark in the later part of the day which can cause sleep problems, depression..many people have SAD..seasonal affective disorder.

DST

100% support going back to standard time and not switching ever again (except in rare cases if our nation is in a crisis and it would truly help). I hear people say they dislike it being dark in the mornings and we should keep DST but I am of the mind that I dislike it being daylight at 9pm --- standard time was good enough for us since the dawn of time (except 1966 as the article states) - mankind thinks their ideas are always an improvement -- well, they are not.

DST

AMEN Richard , I agree with you completely leave the time alone and abolish day light savings time this day and time we don't need it . it throws your schedule out of order that your body has already adjusted to .

DST Change

I didn't agree with it in 1966, and haven't had my opinion changed by the results. Time to step up and join the 21st Century.

DST

Please, please, please keep it in the spring. I work full time and now that it's changed it will be dark when I get home. I love to garden and be outside is taken away after a long day at work. Gardening is my therapy. I have a greenhouse, but; not electricity to the greenhouse, so; I would love to keep the evening longer. I don't know a person who likes this.

End Daylight Saving Time

Please let's end Daylight Saving.

Daylight Saving Time - what a joke!

I live in South Texas and I've always thought that if we must have DST, it needs to be exactly opposite of what we have. However, the best option is to do away with it completely. It definitely does not save us anything - light or money.

Setting clocks ahead/back

I don't like changing it ...Leave it alone.

DST

If our government feels the need to change the time then change it to thirty minutes and leave it alone. Otherwise abolish it.

Daylight Saving time

Stop changing the clocks. It takes me about three months to adjust. Only the American government thinks that you can cut a foot off of one end of a blanket, sew it on the other end and believe it is a foot longer.
Stop changing the clocks

DST Disaster

I have long been opposed to DST for a number of reasons:

It actually wastes energy in most cases. With the increased use of LED lighting, the portion of the average home’s electric bill attributed to lighting is very small; however, running the AC is another matter. Many people have programmable thermostats that increase the set point for the AC when no one is typically at home; others do it manually when they leave in the morning. In the afternoon, when DST is in effect, the sun is up for an extra hour and the AC unit has to run harder longer, which more than negates the small savings from reduced lighting use.

It is hard on wildlife. With more people driving to work in the dark when most wild animals are active greatly increases the incidents of road kill. Not only is it bad for wildlife, it is dangerous for drivers.

The most important reason for scraping DST is that it increases the danger faced by our children when they have to walk or ride bicycles to school or the bus stop in the dark. Every year when we switch to DST in the spring, there is an up tick in the number of injuries suffered by kids getting struck by cars and/or having bicycle accidents on the way to school. If DST is a factor in the death or serious injury of just one child, then it is not worth it.

DST

I hated it when I was young and now as a 60+ yo, still hate it. I never found it beneficial to my work or my health or my productivity. Please eliminate in our state!

DST

I agree that the USA should abolish DST. I have not changed my clocks for several years now, and don't plan to change it this year; it has worked well for me and my family overall health. Natural rhythm exist for many reasons, disrupting it, causes biological rhythm disruption, affecting our moods, mental and other illnesses. Tex Ojeda from New York.

DST

Abolish DST, it causes more harm than good.

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