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DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME

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DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME. The main purpose of Daylight Saving Time is to make better use of daylight. We change our clocks during the summer months to move an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening.

Daylight Saving Time was used in the United States during WORLD WAR I in order to save energy for war production by taking advantage of the later hours of daylight between April and October. During WORLD WAR II, the federal government again required the states to observe the time change. Between the wars and after World War II, states and communities chose whether or not to observe Daylight Saving Time. In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which standardized the length of Daylight Saving Time.

Daylight Saving Time is four weeks longer since 2007 due to the passage of the Energy Policy Act in 2005. The Act extended Daylight Saving Time by four weeks from the second Sunday of March to the first Sunday of November, with the hope that it would save 10,000 barrels of oil each day through reduced use of power by businesses during daylight hours. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine energy savings from Daylight Saving Time. Based on a variety of factors, it is possible that little or no energy is saved by Daylight Saving Time.

Many people intensely dislike Daylight Saving Time. Widespread confusion was created during the 1950s and 1960s when each U.S. locality could start and end Daylight Saving Time as it desired. One year, 23 different pairs of DST start and end dates were used in Iowa. For exactly five weeks each year, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia were not on the same time as Washington D.C., Cleveland, or Baltimore--but Chicago was. And, on one Ohio to West Virginia bus route, passengers had to change their watches seven times in 35 miles. The situation led to millions of dollars in costs to several industries, especially those involving transportation and communications. Extra railroad timetables alone cost the today's equivalent of over $12 million per year.

Frequent complaints are the inconvenience of changing many clocks and adjusting to a new sleep schedule. For most people, this is a small nuisance, but some people with sleep disorders find this transition very difficult. There is evidence that the severity of auto accidents increases and work productivity decreases as people adjust to the time change.

Some argue that the energy savings implied by DST is offset by the energy used by those living in warm climates to cool their homes during summer afternoons and evenings. The argument can also be made that more evening hours of light encourage people to run errands and visit friends, thus consuming more gasoline.