Spring ahead, fall back
Every spring we lose an hour when we put our clocks ahead on the second Sunday of March (last Sunday in March in the UK), and each fall we gain it back again when we put turn our clocks back to standard time on the first Sunday in November (last Sunday in October in the UK). But why do we do it? What’s the point of fiddling with time, which then means we have to reset every clock in the house twice a year? The short answer is, we love light.
When we “spring ahead” in March, we move an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening, so we’re able to enjoy what feels like a longer day when the weather is warmer and we can be outside to enjoy it. It’s also an energy saving measure, according to some sources.1 Daylight Saving Time helps to trim electricity usage by a small amount because demand for electricity to light homes and power appliances is greater in the evening than it is in the morning. So from a conservation standpoint, it makes sense to have more light at the end of the day.
Most people lament the loss of light once the clocks turn back (even though we do gain an hour of sleep that night), but part of the rationale for a return to standard time in November is so that children aren’t leaving for school in the dark.
According to WebExhibits.org, Daylight Saving Time was conceived by Benjamin Franklin and first presented seriously by London Builder William Willett.2 During an early morning ride through the woods one spring, he noticed that even thought the sun was fully risen, most of the houses he passed had their blinds closed because no one was awake yet. He thought this was a terrible waste of daylight.
Daylight Saving Time was formally adopted in the US in 1918, but many countries had been using it since the middle of WWI.
Whether you love it or hate it, changing the clocks in March and November does help us to remember that it’s important to check the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year too. In fact, our community partner, The Red Cross promotes safety and the time change with the hashtag #TurnAndTest: turn your clocks back and test your fire alarms.
For most of us the most complicated thing about Daylight Saving Time is remembering to adjust the clocks and check those batteries. But for Laura Cirioli of North Carolina, things were quite a bit more complicated when she gave birth to her twins in November 2007. Peter was born first at 1:32am and his sister Allison followed 34 minutes later.3 But because Daylight Saving Time reverted back to Standard Time at 2:00am, Allison’s birth time is officially listed as 1:06am. Is she the older child? The younger child? Yes and no!
The Cirioli family has a great story to tell twice a year, and they’re unlikely to ever forget to spring ahead and fall back.
For more fascinating information about Daylight Saving Time visit WebExhibits.org.
413005G CAN/US (11/15)