Daylight Saving Time 2020: When Does the Time Change?

When Does Daylight Saving Time Begin?

March 5, 2020
daylight-saving-time-clock

Daylight Saving Time starts on the 2nd Sunday in March—that’s Sunday, March 8, 2020! See details about the history of “saving daylight” and why we still observe DST today.

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—and rightfully so.

When Is Daylight Saving Time in 2020? When Does the Time Change?

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

  • Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday, March 8, 2020 at 2:00 A.M. On Saturday night, set your clocks forward one hour (i.e., losing one hour) to “spring ahead.”
  • Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 1, 2020, at 2:00 A.M. On Saturday night, set your clocks back one hour (i.e., gaining one hour) to “fall back.”

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

Daylight Saving Time Dates

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

Year Daylight Saving Time Begins Daylight Saving Time Ends
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.
2022 Sunday, March 13 at 2:00 A.M. Sunday, November 6 at 2:00 A.M.
2023 Sunday, March 12 at 2:00 A.M. Sunday, November 5 at 2:00 A.M.

Is it Daylight “Saving” or “Savings” Time?

The correct term is “Daylight Saving Time“ and not “Daylight Savings Time” (with an extra “s”), 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.

The History of Daylight Saving Time

Why Did Daylight Saving Time Start? 

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. (In 2005, the entire state of Indiana became the 48th state to observe Daylight Saving Time.)

Daylight Saving Time Today

The current daylight saving period was established with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which went into effect in 2007.

Today, most Americans 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.). See how your sunrise and sunset times will change with our Sunrise/set Calculator.

However, farmers’ organizations continue to lobby Congress against the practice, preferring early daylight to tend to 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. 

As of March 2020, 39 states have proposed bills to end the practice of switching clocks. However, the legislation can only go into effect if the federal law changes. The Uniform Time Act would need to be amended to allow such a change. See the latest on which states have passed bills to put a stop to DST changes.

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!

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

Leave time alone!!

Standard time is fine. "If it ain't broke don't fix it!"

DST after Holloween

They extended daylight savings time until after Holloween to get more kids to trick or treat and sell more candy.

daylight saving

Daylight saving was put in place to have more time at home in the summer months. Your page here is making it look like daylight saving is in the winter months. You have it back to front. Daylight saving finishes on the 8th March.

DST

Dread the time change every Spring, disruption in our sleep cycles. Also a high rate of auto vehicle wrecks. And the poor children trying to adjust to either going back & forward an hour in their school schedule.

Daylight Saving Time

Having DST year round is an awful idea. We tried it during the energy crisis in the early 1970's; it resulted in students waiting for school buses in the dark and there were accidents. Lately I have seen studies showing that setting the clock forward in spring causes an increase in heart attacks and strokes due to the added stress. Permanent EST is best all around.

DST

Against.

I agree with the comment below. When the sun dial casts no shadow, it's NOON. From there, let the chips fall how they may!

DST

I've never had a problem with it. I just get the same amount of sleep either way. Although, I love the light at the end of the day. I hope they change it and leave it that way. President Trump mentioned something about changing it permanently. I'd love it.

Change your hours not the clock.

I think that if people want to work in the early sunny hours let them change their hours. Changing the clock screws up my intermal clock something terrible. i go by the sun not the arbitrary number.

I don't get it

I just don't get how it works. I set my alarm for 6am and it woke me up at 5am. I am in Nigeria and it doesn't work here but cos I use this alarm phone whenever I'm in the US, I'm automatically drawn in. Let nature take its cause. No to DST!

Love DST, But . . .

I love daylight savings time--gives me an extra hour in the evening to enjoy non-rushed activity time with family and friends, do chores, etc. I wish we had it all year.

DST

As one who likes to rise early to have time to do a few things before work I’ve always hated daylight savings time. If people want to start work early they should change their work schedule not the clock!

I HATE DST!!!!

We need to end DST right now! Turning the clocks forward at its beginning wreaks havoc with my circadian rhythm, and losing an hour of sleep makes me feel sleep-deprived and slightly jet lagged. For the few days after, there is an increase in car accidents because people have a hard time adjusting to the new time. Since there is little evidence it saves energy, it should be abandoned ASAP.

Daylight Saving Time

I would rather see us not 'fall back' in November than to kill DST. I love having more light in the evening than the morning. For those of us who live up north, if we stopped DST the sun would start rising about 330am in the summertime - not good!!
For the winter months, the sun goes down about 430pm, before we even come home from work...….
My vote is once we spring ahead in March, end the changing of time - Please!
Thank you,
JoJo

DST

END IT ALREADY!!
It's absolutely idiotic to keep changing clocks. DST makes it stay light later in the evening. I blame DST partially for the demise of drive-in theaters! Fewer people are willing/able to stay up late to watch a movie or two.

Daylight Savings

The sun will rise, & set regardless of what our clocks say. Why not just keep the clock at one time and work on fixing more important things. Let farmers do the important job of food and government mind it own business. They have enough to deal with then this Mickey mouse problem.

DST

Get rid of it. I'm just getting used to seeing daylight at 6 am, after the switch, it will be dark at 7am again. Ugh. I like morning light. The earlier the better.

DST

End it. Cutting off one end of the blanket and stitching it onto the other end doesn't make the blanket any longer. Standard time keeps the kids who are going to school much safer early in the morning. Early to bed, early to rise...remember that saying?

DST

I agree the switching is crazy. I'm for DST year round though. I have farmer friends who don't care, they are up at four anyway tending their animals. DST feels right and daylight longer lifts the spirit.

DST

It's SILLY! Especially having it start so soon, when the kids are still in school; they'll be struggling with homework till June and won't be able to "play outside" (as if they did). I agree with the farmers. No "daylight" is "saved;" it's just a gimmick. Let's go back to Standard Time year-round, and maybe then we'll also begin to do other things according to Good Old-Fashioned Common Horse Sense!

DST

End DST. The circadian clock in both humans and animals sets itself by sunrise and sunset. Why try and retrain for 1 hour.

daylight saving time

It goes against biology to change our clocks and confuse our bodies. it needs to end and the sooner the better! Government once again lied to us about why we should do it. There is no proof that we save any energy.

DST

Would definitely love to see the end of DST. Since “Standard Time” is so short in duration, why even bother to change? People who work still have the same hours. Waking up feeling like it is still the middle of the night, and having to go to bed while sunlight is still streaming in the windows just goes against nature.

Daylight savings time

It goes against the natural order, nature knows when it should be light and dark; leave it to her.

DST

I'm against it

Dst

I absolutely hate it. It serves no purpose . It confused people & animals

DST

There is a major difference in "daylight saving time" and a person saving or "using" the daylight to accomplish their tasks, chores, work etc. Let the clock alone and abide by the common sense of ' The early bird gets the worm" and "early to bed...early to rise, makes a man(people) healthy , wealthy and wise." Perhaps if one does his best to abide by good common sense... no one would need to think of changing their clocks at all. They would start and end their day when their work begins and ends. Changing clocks is a gimmick in my belief designed by a precept in one 's mind or a group of people thinking they know what is best for all, regardless of the impact on their personal lives... "we are guaranteed by our constitution... 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' ...". This DST is an infringement on that principal. If you are to be at work at 5 a.m, be there whether the sun is up or not. Nature has its own rules and chickens will lay eggs when it is time and cows need milked twice a , day and the clock has no bearing on these chores. Do away with the non-sense of changing the clock so the natural God instilled sense of right time to rise and retire are placed solely in the hands and hearts of the people themselves. just a thought. Thanks dean d.

Stay on standard time all year

I'm more of a night person by default. Well I don't live way up north, usually during most of June and July. It doesn't really get fully dark out until 9PM. Towards the longest day, it's not fully dark almost until 9:30 PM. In winter, it doesn't start getting bright out until 7:30, it would make it near 8:30 before it did in winter. I hate waking up before it gets bright out.

Really wouldn't make a difference up north. Most people that work work 9 to 5, so either way you are likely to come home to a dark house. (If DST stayed or not, and I hope it never does)

One thing I hate about clock changes. When W. Bush extended the months, it moved the sun into a bad spot. Before that change, the sunrise/set didn't get in the way as much. Now that it's so early, after finally getting it out of the way, we DST and it's back to being in the eyes again for another two weeks.

Many studies have shown if we save energy it's less than 1% and studies have shown it also goes up by 1%.

That and we really need to update the train time zone map and make it more around a yearly sun cycle for time zones. This way, everyone can win. The nightowls get their earlier darkness at a reasonable time and people who want longer daylight win.

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.

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