What is Daylight Savings Time (DST)?
Daylight Savings Time (or summer time in England and some European countries) refers to the practice of setting the time forward (later) by one hour from spring until autumn, in order to take advantage of extended daylight in the later hours of the day.
Daylight Savings proponents argue that most people are more productive when daylight hours are shifted to the end of the day. In contrast, we are generally more likely to sleep in the early morning hours, and therefore waste any extra daylight that occurs early in the day. Also, studies show that traffic fatalities go down during daylight savings months.
[blockQuote position=”right”]Jurisdictions around the world observe Daylight Savings Time, including much of North America, Europe, Australia, Antarctica and South America.[/blockQuote]Although some people have argued that Daylight Savings results in lower overall energy use, little data currently exists to support that theory. While some studies show that lighting usage goes down, for example, afternoon cooling (summer) and morning heating (autumn) usage goes up at the same time, and more than overtakes the savings gained from lower lighting needs.
Detractors point to data that suggests that sleep disruptions caused by Daylight Savings changes result in more (and more severe) on-the-job injuries on the Monday after the clocks change each year.
Does everyone change their clocks?
Jurisdictions around the world observe Daylight Savings Time, including much of North America, Europe, Australia, Antarctica and South America. However, many countries do not change their clocks, including many jurisdictions in Asia, Central America, the Middle East and Africa. Some of the countries who choose not to observe Daylight Savings set their time one zone east – essentially resulting year-round daylight savings. If you’re curious about a particular country or territory, check this list.
[blockQuote position=”left”]…many countries do not change their clocks, including many jurisdictions in Asia, Central America, the Middle East and Africa. [/blockQuote]The farther you are from the equator, the more greatly the total number of hours of daylight varies from summer to winter. Daylight Savings time changes don’t really affect the people who live closest to the equator, where the number of daylight hours doesn’t change much with the season. For those who live farthest from the equator, the number of daylight hours has little effect on productivity – the days are already so short in winter and long in summer, those populations must adjust their sleeping and working habits no matter what the clock says. Daylight savings is observed nonetheless in Norway, Finland and Sweden, as it is in most parts of Canada and Greenland.
In the U.S., everyone observes daylight savings except residents of Hawaii, most of Arizona, a small portion of Alaska and the military communities of Wake Island and the Midway Islands.
When is Daylight Savings Time?
Daylight Savings and summer time start and end on different dates around the world. Currently in the U.S., DST begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November.
Wintertime Daylight Savings is sometimes advocated but has not gained popularity because of the fact that our children would need to go to school before the sun comes up.
An important reminder
Daylight Savings time is the unofficial smoke detector maintenance holiday in the U.S. Fire departments nationwide encourage us to change the batteries in every smoke alarm in our homes every time we change our clocks, and ensure each unit is in good working order.
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