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

The rotation of the earth is not subject to government regulation. Daylight cannot be saved. It can be wasted, though.

Nothing Saved

There are 24 hours in a day. The sun shines a set number of hours per day. We live by our clocks, not the sun. Leave the time on the clocks alone....we will still have the same amount of light and darkness in that 24 hour period. I say move it 30 minutes between DLT and current clock time and forget about it. In a year's time no one will know the difference.

Daylight Savings

I would love to see DST gone. It is a health hazard that few have really studied. The animals only know the real "Sun" time, which is what I respond to.

DST

Daylight Savings Time all year.

DST

Stop DST! I have long considered 'universal jet-lag' to be a stupid, mean and insane practice. Especially disruptive is the 'springing forward'. Though I'd prefer staying on DST, now we are off it, stay off it. And how about putting Michigan in the Central Time Zone where it belongs?

DST

As a retired person I go by the sun anyway. But when my kids were school age I hated the change for many reasons. I hated sending my children to the school bus at the jump ahead time. In Wyoming this ment colder weather and dark bus stops. The sun wasn’t up to melt the icy roads which made sliding busses at their stops. We turned on lights and turned up heaters sooner in the mornings. I could go on but your getting my disapproval right?

DST

I'd vote to go back on DST in March and stay there forever. I hate changing all the clocks twice a year (I have a LOT of clocks). And the adjustments it creates is especially difficult for children and animals. But I do like the extra hour of daylight in the evenings. So why not adjust permanently with the clocks on DST. The only thing I like about DST is that one night of the year when you THINK you're getting an extra hour of sleep...until you pop awake at 4:45 a.m. and you're up for the day.

DST

Abolish! I enjoy have more daylight after work.

DST

I hate it getting dark early in the evening. So I’m all for DST to stay when we set our clocks in the spring.

DST

DST all year round

re: Daylight Saving

A very wise native American once said, "Only the white man thinks he can gain something by cutting off one end of a blanket then sewing it on the other."

Daylight Savings Time

We need to abolish it. We no longer really need it, probably never did and we are tired of all the confusion about. Especially as we are getting older. I would love to see it end today ! ; }

DST

Please put a stop to daylight savings once and for all. There are no benefits to DST.

Time Change

All the comments I read seem to agree to not changing our clocks.I would like to know what we need to do to make this a reality.

DST

Yes, leave it one way or the other and quit changing it every few months.

END DST, Disruptive

Now that I'm retired I definitely do not miss having my sleep patterns disrupted in a major way, twice a year. I used to really dread it when the time changed and could count on spending 2 or 3 weeks each time re-acclimating my body rhythms. Definitely remember going through the struggle when the kids were in school.

Daylight savings time

I am all for ending dst, it makes absolutely no sense.

DST

Let this be the last time for DST. I lived in Arizona which for the most part does not observe DST. It was so nice not messing with clocks twice a year. Now I have to change twice a year and remember what time it is back in Arizona when I make call back there. Lets end DST NOW

Abolish DST

It takes my husband and me several weeks to adjust our ‘inner clock’ whenever we have to change every spring and fall. DST serves no purpose but to annoy everyone. We vote GET RID OF IT,

Daylight savings time

I wish they would make it DST all year long. I'd enjoy the extra light at the end of the day. Changing back and forth and throwing off your sleep time is harder the older you get.

DST

Maybe more importantly children are greatly affected by this. Let’s think of them

DST

Yes! Absolutely! Abolish DST. I have brought up the problem of the children awaiting buses in the dark and cold, especially in city neighborhoods, every year. I really don't care when the sun goes down, according to the clocks; but as a semi-retired person, I suffer fatigue for the entire eight months of DST (and why EIGHT months???), because I work afternoons and evenings, and if I have to do anything at all during early morning hours, I am sluggish and unproductive. The whole idea of it is silly and selfish, causes many more problems, and solves nothing.

Daylight Savings Time

DISCONTINUE

Ending DST

Please end it once and for all. It serves absolutely no useful purpose whatsoever. People are still going to do whatever they want to do. Let the natural rhythm of nature exist without mankind’s manipulation

DST

I love the morning light but my body can’t take the getting up at 4 now instead of 5 . It doesn’t get better. It saves no money for energy usage. Let’s all get rid of this constant switch.

DST

I would rather it be dark in the morning then late afternoon. I think it would save on energy costs.

DST

I waste at least an hour every fall and spring changing the clocks and watches, and there is still the exact same amount of daylight! Let's stop changing the clocks.

Dst

No reason for this practice to continue, most farmers I think would prefer longer daylight hours. And government is wanting to get rid of the farming community anyway, not that I agree with that practice either. Government has ruined the American way of life. End the stupidity

Abolish DST

Whatever the reasons the DST was introduced in 1966, that wisdom does not exist anymore, especially considering the havoc it creates in our bodies' biological clock. Without further ado, I wish the wise people would just abolish DST.

DST is against nature

The DST before 2007 was tolerable, but if someone thinks that extends one month could save more energy, why don’t extend DST to all year long? I consider DST is one of the rules man made to against the Mother Nature. No need to say that I myself dislike it from the beginning. I cannot wait to see it’s end completely.

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