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What Is the Point of Daylight Savings Time?

Every year, we are required to change our clocks back one hour in fall and an hour forward in the spring/summertime. Even though we all must do this, many are not aware of the reasons for it. The first people to propose the idea of daylight savings were Benjamin Franklin, George Vernon Hudson, and William Willett. These men all introduced the idea around 1784. However, the first official and established use of this idea occurred during World War II thanks to Germany and its allies that implemented changing the clock in order to conserve coal. Once the other nations, such as the U.S. and European nations, saw the positive results from this clock-shifting idea, they adopted the idea as well. Many reasons have been thrown out about the purpose of daylight savings time (DST); however some of them are not true. For example, it is not true that it was created for farmers. The real reasons for daylight savings time are quite logical. The main reason for daylight savings time is to make good use of daylight and save energy. In the summer, our clocks are moved forward to extend an hour of daylight to the evening. As the Germans discovered, energy is saved when the clocks are shifted. The idea is that if the sun is out "longer" than normal, people will use natural light and turn on their home lights later. Therefore, less electricity will be used. In 1975, a study was done by the US Department of Transportation that estimated DST would decrease the country's electricity consumption by 1% from March to April. One year later, other sources said that this reduction was insignificant. This is due to the fact that many people used air conditioning and other home appliances while they were home. Also, those who woke up early in the morning consumed lots of energy because there was less sunlight in the morning.

Moreover, during the wintertime, DST is less advantageous to many people and businesses that need more light in the early morning because the sun rises later. Even the logic behind DST was that it would save energy all year round. However, the least energy is saved during the winter's darkest months: November, December, January, and February. Furthermore, the entire state of Indiana did not follow daylight savings time until 2008. After doing a study, of residential electricity consumption in the state, they found that the usage of electricity was actually increased by a percent during DST. Therefore, it counteracted the original purpose of DST which was for saving energy. This is due to the increased usage of air-conditioning during the hot summer days.

Lastly, it is interesting to know that DST depends on where you live in the world. For those who live near the equator, the hours of day and night are equally about 12 hours each. Yet, the closer one lives to the North or South Pole, the longer they have daylight during the summer. For that matter, DST during the summer is not beneficial in the tropical areas. Also, nations close to the equator do not shift their clocks at all.

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