Daylight Saving Time 2019: When Does the Time Change?

See When to Turn the Clocks Back, Plus The History of Daylight Saving

November 1, 2019
daylight-saving-time-clock

Daylight Saving Time ends this Sunday, November 3, at 2 A.M., so prepare Saturday evening to “fall back” by setting your clocks back one hour. Here’s everything there is to know about Daylight Saving—from a brief history of why we observe this practice to the never-ending debate about changing the clocks twice a year!

What Is Daylight Saving Time?

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of moving the clocks forward one hour from Standard Time during the summer months, and changing them back again in the fall. The general idea is that this allows us all to make better use of natural daylight. However, DST has many detractors.

Note that the term is “Daylight Saving Time” and not “Daylight Savings Time” (with an extra “s” at the end of “Saving”), though many of us are guilty of saying it the wrong way! The technical explanation is that the word “saving” is singular because it acts as part of an adjective rather than a verb.

When Is Daylight Saving Time in 2019?

To remember which way to set their clocks, folks often use the expression, “Spring forward, fall back.”

  • DST began on Sunday, March 10, 2019, at 2:00 A.M. Remember to “spring forward” in the spring and set your clocks forward one hour (i.e., losing one hour). 
  • DST ends on Sunday, November 3, 2019, at 2:00 A.M. At this time, we “fall back” in the fall by setting clocks back one hour (i.e., gaining one hour).

Note: Since the time changes at 2:00 A.M., we generally change our clocks before bed on Saturday.

Daylight Saving Time Dates

(The exceptions to DST are Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.)

Year Daylight Saving Time Begins Daylight Saving Time Ends
2019 Sunday, March 10 at 2:00 A.M. Sunday, November 3 at 2:00 A.M.
2020 Sunday, March 8 at 2:00 A.M. Sunday, November 1 at 2:00 A.M.
2021 Sunday, March 14 at 2:00 A.M. Sunday, November 7 at 2:00 A.M.

The History of Daylight Saving Time

Does changing the clocks really provide benefits? We’ll let you be the judge. 

Blame Ben?

Benjamin Franklin’s “An Economical Project,” written in 1784, is the earliest known proposal to “save” daylight. It was whimsical in tone, advocating laws to compel citizens to rise at the crack of dawn to save the expense of candlelight:

Every morning, as soon as the Sun rises, let all the bells in every church be set ringing: and if that is not sufficient, let cannon be fired in every street to wake the sluggards effectually… . Oblige a man to rise at four in the morning, and it is probable that he will go willingly to bed at eight in the evening.”

DST’s True Founder? 

The first true proponent of Daylight Saving Time was an Englishman named William Willet. A London builder, he conceived the idea while riding his horse early one morning in 1907. He noticed that the shutters of houses were tightly closed even though the Sun had risen. In “The Waste of Daylight,” the manifesto of his personal light-saving campaign, Willet wrote, “Everyone appreciates the long, light evenings. Everyone laments their shrinkage as the days grow shorter; and nearly everyone has given utterance to a regret that the nearly clear, bright light of an early morning during Spring and Summer months is so seldom seen or used… . That so many as 210 hours of daylight are, to all intents and purposes, wasted every year is a defect in our civilization. Let England recognise and remedy it.”

Willet spent a small fortune lobbying businessmen, members of Parliament, and the U.S. Congress to put clocks ahead 20 minutes on each of the four Sundays in April, and reverse the process on consecutive Sundays in September. But his proposal was met mostly with ridicule. One community opposed it on moral grounds, calling the practice the sin of “lying” about true time.

World War I Led to Adoption of DST

Attitudes changed after World War I broke out. The government and citizenry recognized the need to conserve coal used for heating homes. The Germans were the first to officially adopt the light-extending system in 1915, as a fuel-saving measure during World War I. This led to the introduction in 1916 of British Summer Time: From May 21 to October 1, clocks in Britain were put an hour ahead.

The United States followed in 1918, when Congress passed the Standard Time Act, which established the time zones. However, this was amidst great public opposition. A U.S. government Congressional Committee was formed to investigate the benefits of Daylight Saving Time. Many Americans viewed the practice as an absurd attempt to make late sleepers get up early. Others thought that it was unnatural to follow “clock time” instead of “Sun time.” A columnist in the Saturday Evening Post offered this alternative: “Why not ‘save summer’ by having June begin at the end of February?”

WWI-era Daylight Saving Postcard

The matter took on new meaning in April 1917, when President Woodrow Wilson declared war. Suddenly, energy conservation was of paramount importance, and several efforts were launched to enlist public support for changing the clocks. A group called the National Daylight Saving Convention distributed postcards showing Uncle Sam holding a garden hoe and rifle, turning back the hands of a huge pocket watch. Voters were asked to sign and mail to their congressman postcards that declared, “If I have more daylight, I can work longer for my country. We need every hour of light.” Manhattan’s borough president testified to Congress that the extra hour of light would be a boon to home gardening, and therefore increase the Allies’ food supply. Posters chided, “Uncle Sam, your enemies have been up and are at work in the extra hour of daylight—when will YOU wake up?”

With public opinion in its favor, Congress officially declared that all clocks would be moved ahead one hour at 2:00 A.M. on March 31, 1918. (Canada adopted a similar policy later the same year.) Americans were encouraged to turn off their lights and go to bed earlier than they normally did—at around 8:00 P.M.

Farmers Did NOT Favor DST

Many Americans wrongly point to farmers as the driving force behind Daylight Saving Time. In fact, farmers were its strongest opponents and, as a group, stubbornly resisted the change from the beginning.

When the war was over, the farmers and working-class people who had held their tongues began to speak out. They demanded an end to Daylight Saving Time, claiming that it benefited only office workers and the leisure class. The controversy put a spotlight on the growing gap between rural and urban dwellers. As a writer for the Literary Digest put it, “The farmer objects to doing his early chores in the dark merely so that his city brother, who is sound asleep at the time, may enjoy a daylight motor ride at eight in the evening.”

The Daylight Saving Time experiment lasted only until 1920, when the law was repealed due to opposition from dairy farmers (cows don’t pay attention to clocks). No fewer than 28 bills to repeal Daylight Saving Time had been introduced to Congress, and the law was removed from the books. American had tolerated Daylight Saving Time for about seven months.

Daylight Saving WWI-era poster

DST Returns 

The subject did not come up again until after the attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941, and the United States was once again at war.

During World War II, Daylight Saving Time was imposed once again (this time year-round) to save fuel. Clocks were set one hour ahead to save energy.

After the war (which concluded with Japan’s final surrender on September 2, 1945), Daylight Saving Time started being used on and off in different states, beginning and ending on days of their choosing.

Local Differences and Inconsistency

Inconsistent adherence to time zones among the states created considerable confusion with interstate bus and train service. To remedy the situation, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act in 1966, establishing consistent use of Daylight Saving Time within the United States: Clocks were to be set ahead one hour on the last Sunday in April and one hour back on the last Sunday in October.

That was the rule, but some state legislatures took exception via a loophole that had been built into the law. Residents of Hawaii and most of Arizona did not change their clocks. Residents of Indiana, which straddles the Eastern and Central time zones, were sharply divided on Daylight Saving Time: Some counties employed it, some did not.

In 1986, the U.S. Congress approved a bill to increase the period of Daylight Saving Time, moving the start to the first Sunday in April. The goal was to conserve oil used for generating electricity—an estimated 300,000 barrels annually. Still, some resistance remained:

  • In 1997, a bill was introduced to end Daylight Saving Time in Nevada.
  • In 2001, the California legislature requested that its state be allowed to enact Daylight Saving Time year-round in order to eliminate rolling blackouts caused by the electricity crisis in that state.

Neither of these proposed changes came to pass.

Daylight Saving Time Today

The current daylight saving period was established with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which went into effect in 2007. As a result, most Americans now spring forward (turn clocks ahead and lose an hour) on the second Sunday in March (at 2:00 A.M.) and fall back (turn clocks back and gain an hour) on the first Sunday in November (at 2:00 A.M.).

However, even today, farmers’ organizations lobby Congress against the practice, preferring early daylight to dry their fields and a Standard Time sunset for ending their work at a reasonable hour. Some farmers point out that the Daylight Saving Time is deceptively misnamed. “It is a gimmick that changes the relationship between ‘Sun’ time and ‘clock’ time but saves neither time nor daylight,” says Katherine Dutro, spokesperson for the Indiana Farm Bureau.

Most of Canada is on Daylight Saving Time; only portions of Saskatchewan and small pockets of British Columbia remain on Standard Time year-round. However, the practice has its detractors. In the words of a current-day Canadian poultry producer, “The chickens do not adapt to the changed clock until several weeks have gone by, so the first week of April and the last week of October are very frustrating for us.” Similarly, one Canadian researcher likened an increase in traffic accidents to the onset of Daylight Saving Time. Other experts insist that the extra hour of daylight reduces crime. 

Calculate your local sunrise and sunset times!

Share your thoughts about DST below—and see readers’ comments from the past. As you can see, our Almanac readers are quite passionate about this topic!

720x480-gardening.jpg

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

Declaring War

The author stated that president Wilson declared war in 1917. Only Congress can declare war in the United States. Well, at least that used to be the case before police actions and nation building and such.

Standard Time Rocks!

I vote for the return of standard time, all year long, as it should be. When it’s noon on the sundial, it’s noon everywhere. If you must have more hours of sunlight, Alaska has a midnight sun for that. Standard Time has more than enough sunlight for us, manage your day accordingly. It’s healthier in more ways than one.

Keep DST year-round!

I would love it if we could keep DST year-round! I remember, during the energy crisis in the early 1970s, that we did that for 1-2 years. I loved it! It's tough driving home in the dark at 4:30 in the afternoon and coming home to a dark house.

Ridiculous

I agree that changing the clocks twice a year is ridiculous and unnecessary. It is an archaic practice designed for factory workers during wartime and is not appropriate for our modern age: --but what is wrong with "Standard time"? I too remember the year-round DST in the early 70's. Who wants to get up hours before dark and begin the day in the dark, spending the first hour of work or school in darkness? I thought it was ridiculous: It did not save energy, because you had to turn the lights on during the morning hours. Why not just keep standard time all year? Don't be a slave to the clock, just get up with the sun, as Ben Franklin suggested.

More accidents-

The sudden evening darkness earlier makes it hard to see pedestrians

Daylight savings time

Get rid of it!!! Leave it to the government to screw up the time!

One Time

It never has made any sense to me why I should loose an Hour of precious sleep in the spring & gain it back in the fall. And the older you get, the harder it is on the body. I've read where there has been research done to see the effects it has on the body. It was found that in older people especially, one the day you have to get up an hour early, there are more heart attacks & strokes on that day. your body has a rhythm & internal time clock. Be kind to your body!!! Get Rid of It!!!!!

DST

I hate having to change times twice a year. Just decide on a time and leave it alone.

DST

I don't believe DST is truly necessary any longer. It has no bearing on anyone that works out of doors and those that work inside do not utilize the natural light as when it was first implemented. It seems to have become more of a tradition or event than a true need.

The DST

We should go by sun time all year around, as people did for thousands of years. In British Columbia we may be stuck on DST year-round if the proposed legislation goes through to mandate year-round DST all along the west coast of North America. This means every winter I will be driving to work in the dark, since BC is quite far north. Sunrise in December in Vancouver would be about 9:10 AM! I hope something or someone stops this craziness.

Agreed

Noon should be approximated by its traditional definition of when the sun reaches its zenith in the sky each day, not by some government edict based upon war or productivity.

DST

You are crazy! We do NOT gain or lose an hour. We are not "saving time"! Are we so gullible we can fool ourselves? If businesses want extra time in the evening, then start an hour earlier in the summer. We are fools!

Daylight Saving Time

Time to do away with it
A few years ago the USA government changed the time frame. Made it shorter. Four months instead of six.
I was so surprised they didn’t drop it.
CRAZY
Sure happy I live in Saskatchewan where we don’t participate

DST in SK

Most of Saskatchewan is on Central zone time - the astronomical time at 90°W. Yet 105°W, the principal meridian for the Mountain zone, goes right down the middle of the province - through a pond just east of Lanigan, for example. If the province was on Mountain time, 12:00 would be solar noon. On Central Standard Time, solar noon is 1:00 pm.

So it's more correct to say Saskatchewan never goes OFF daylight time, because the clocks are keeping a solar time that's just about perfect for the Esso station in Shebandowan, Ont.

DST

I hate changing the clocks, it gets harder to adjust to it as you get older. Keep DST all year long!! I like the extra light at night.

daylight savings time

I would prefer they discard DST or leave it DST all the time. Don't like changing the clocks or the personal change.

DST

I hate DST, I wish they would leave our clocks alone. I see no benefits in it at all. It's hard to keep trying to adjust to the time changes.

Daylight Savings Time

When I was in high school in western Kentucky in the 1950s, we lived on a farm, and my father worked at the Atomic Plant. The plant was a Federal facility and went on Daylight Savings time, while the rest of western Kentucky remained on standard time. My Mom nearly went crazy keeping two clocks so Dad could get to work on time and we kids could catch the school bus at the right time. I finally explained to my Mom that this was non-sense. All she had to remember was that Dad worked from 07:00 am to 3:00 pm standard time. After that was settled, the only problem was that Dad and I had to tend animals on the farm in the dark before he went to work in the mornings. However, he had more hours of daylight for other farm work in the evenings.

Daylight Saving (not "Savings") Time

“It is a gimmick that changes the relationship between ‘Sun’ time and ‘clock’ time but saves neither time nor daylight,” says Katherine Dutro, spokesperson for the Indiana Farm Bureau. I completely agree...(1) you have the same amount of daylight hours when you switch from Standard Time to DST; (2) DST lasts 8 months of the year - why don't we just keep it that way year round? Personally, I'd rather have that "extra" hour of daylight after work in November, December, January and February; and (3) no one I know likes to "switch" time, regardless of whether it is in April or November - pick one that stays all year round and call it "New Standard Time" as one reader suggests!

Daylight Saving Time

Daylight saving time may be popular in some parts of the Country, but not here in Florida. DST actually costs us money by wasting electricity on air conditioning. Most people turn their their thermostat up about 5 degrees when they leave in the morning and return the setting to normal when they arrive home in the afternoon. Therefore the AC has to run hard for an extra hour until the sun goes down. That extra hour of AC usage uses many times the electricity "saved" by having the lights on one hour less in the evening.

DST

Eradicate DST...it is no fun when the hot blinding sun is still shining at 8:30 p.m. during summer months..and winter months are a time for hibernation..let’s leave Mother Nature alone and not try to control her.

Keep Natural Standard time

I too, don't think we need DST nowadays. But DONT LEAVE IT ON DST year round. We should not mess with Nature. There are several comments regarding the changes affecting different things in our lives, ie, vehicle accidents so the fact that it affects our health must be true. It is not a natural thing to change the daylight hours' start time. Please, if the practice is stopped, Leave it the natural standard time.

DST

Doesn’t make much sense to keep changing clocks to suit people! We live in a small world!

DST

DST: it's like cutting a foot off the bottom of a blanket and sewing it to the top of the blanket and expecting more blanket. Not Logical

DST-hate it

This is the best explanation for the illogical process. I hate it, it takes me about 2 weeks to adjust to if it's the top of the blanket or the bottom I am using.

Daylight Saving Time

I for one do not like DST. My internal clock is not compatible with the clock. We are no longer a farming country. Most of us work other jobs. I would love it to be ended.

8 months of DST!

We have daylight savings time 2/3 of the year. Why not just add the rest of the months to that plan and call it New Standard Time? The number of daylight hours in those 4 months is minimal anyway.

I never understood how people think you actually gain an hour of anything in any day. It's the same number of hours, daylight or not. You don't get more ( or less) just because it's called 9pm and not 8pm. If you need more daylight before or after your work shift, get your boss to change your hours. Or get a different job. Or just deal with the fact that there are less daylight hours during part of the year.

Year round standard time

I agree daylight savings is making me tired. I’m on the autistic spectrum and I have a sleeping disorder. I’m am seeing a sleep specialist about and she been very helpful but it’s taking months to get an sleep test appointment with her.

Time change

Why did we change time earlier this year it’s said it was changing March 10 at 2am and it changed on Saturday night at midnight????

Dst

I am for DST, but not sure why it is starting so early. April is fine.

Pages