Understanding Daylight Saving Time

The first person to come up with the idea of daylight saving time was Benjamin Franklin in 1784. Daylight Saving Time started during World War 1 when the United States moved the clocks ahead one hour to save energy because of the extra hour of sunlight. It was stopped after World War 1 until the beginning of World War 2. It was stopped again after World War 2 until 1966 when Congress passed the Uniform Time Act.

The Uniform Time Act made the period from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October the time when the clocks were to be set one hour ahead. Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa do not observe Daylight Saving Time.

An easy way to remember to turn the clocks forward for Daylight Saving Time is “Spring Forward” because it starts just before the Spring. Also, the phrase “Fall Back” can be used to remember to set the clocks back one hour for Standard Time.

The Energy Policy Act was signed by President Bush on August 8, 2005. It increased the length of Daylight Saving Time by four weeks by extending it to the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November. In other words, it has increased from 210 days to 238 days, or about 65% of the year. March 8 at 2:00 a.m. is when the clocks should be set ahead one hour in the United States this year (2009). It ends on Sunday, November 1 at 2:00 a.m. when the clocks should be set back again. Cell phones and radio controlled devices have the new rules already installed, so it should adjust automatically.

In other areas of the world Daylight Saving Time is also observed. The southern hemisphere observes Daylight Saving Time from October to March because it is summer in December there. Europe has been using Daylight Saving Time for several years, but a Standardized European Summer time was started in 1966. In 1996, the European Union started observing Daylight Saving Time from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October.

The lower latitudes don’t recognize Daylight Saving Time because the daylight hours are similar every season. Most of Canada observes Daylight Saving Time. Exceptions are Saskatchewan and Northeastern British Columbia. Manitoba and Ontario extended Daylight Saving Time in 2007 to cooperate with their neighbor to the south, the United States. Mexico didn’t recognize Daylight Saving Time until 1996. All three time zones of Mexico have since adopted Daylight Saving Time.

Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and Queensland do not observe Daylight Saving Time. The rest of Australia does, and this portion includes Sydney and Melbourne. China does not observe Daylight Saving Time. Japan has always been Standard Time since 1952.