The Pros and Cons of Losing an Hour of Daylight in the Fall

It happens every year, although many of us are not exactly sure when, how or where we change our clocks in the fall, losing an hour of daylight in the evening, but gaining an hour in the morning. There are a handful of reasons to support Daylight Saving Time, but there even more reasons why it’s an idea whose time has come – and gone.

– Pros

Great for morning people:
“Moving” a hour of light to the start of the day is great for morning people, giving them more time to garden, golf or walk the dog. (Personally, I suggest they get up a bit earlier.)

Reminder to do…:
There are several things we need to do on a regular basis – change the oil in the car, the batteries in the smoke detectors, test the generator or clean out the refrigerator. The clock change is a great reminder to ensure these routine tasks are accomplished, and in the fall we have an extra hour to get more things done. (If you can get all that done in an hour, I’m impressed!)

Some business benefit:
If power consumption goes up, certainly energy companies will benefit financially. With less daylight in the evening, people may be more tempted to stay late at work, which would benefit their employers. Business which provide indoor entertainment – theaters, arcades, casinos – would also benefit as people have less time in the evening to enjoy the out-of-doors. (Wouldn’t we all be heading inside anyway…?)

– Cons

Spring-ahead, fall-back or is it the other way around? Daylight Saving Time is a way of life for most of us, but with recent changes in the laws changing the date from the last Sunday in October to the first Sunday in November, many of us are confused as to how and when the clocks should change. Our VCRs and PCs are even more confused, as many were programed before the law was changed.

Further, countries who observe DST may change the time on different days, and some countries and US states (Arizona and Hawaii) and territories (Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands) don’t change their clocks at all. Worse still, who changes and when those changes occur change too (are you confused yet?).

Checking the change:
While most of us and most of our technology change smoothly, time-sensitive businesses and services (hospitals, TV stations, security firms, banks, transportation services) must carefully monitor the change to make sure it happens correctly.

And how many of us have forgotten and showed up late (or early) for work or an important appointment?

Energy consumption:
While saving energy is touted as one of the big pluses of Day Light Saving time, a study by the University of California shows that energy use actually increases! There are numerous other studies with varying results, but the bottom line is, if it’s dark earlier, you’ll probably be using more energy.

Psychological effects:
Humans and animals have biological clocks which tell them when to eat and sleep, when to be more alert and when to relax. Changing the time twice a year throws our biological clocks off, and physical and mental problems are often the result, at least for the first week or two after the time change. There is evidence of an increase in accidents too.

And while humans can at least attempt to rationalize our discomfort, how do you explain to your dog or a stable full of horses that their dinner is late because the time “changed”?

Looking at some of the polls, studies and editorial articles on the subject of Daylight Saving Time, it appears that most of us don’t like the change in time, spring or fall, even if we “gain” an hour in the autumn. Time changing is problematic at best, and there are too few benefits to justify the effort, expense and confusion. An idea that was proposed over 200 years ago in jest is no longer applicable to our modern times, and maybe it’s time for us to change with the times.