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Daylight saving time: Helpful or harmful?

By Sonny Long
March 14, 2010 at 11 p.m.
Updated March 14, 2010 at 10:15 p.m.


1784: Ben Franklin writes a paper extolling the virtues of extending daylight in order to save candles.

1918: The U.S. establishes a daylight saving time to run for seven months to conserve electricity during World War I. Once the war was over, the national law is dropped and daylight saving time became a local option.

1942: During World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt orders a year-round daylight saving time, called "War Time," which runs for three years.

1944: For the next two decades, there is no national law. States and jurisdictions can choose whether to observe daylight saving time and when to begin and end it.

1966: Congress passes the Uniform Time Act establishing a beginning and end date for daylight saving time, but leaves it up to local jurisdictions to decide whether to use it.

1973: Congress enacts the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act in response to the Arab oil embargo. Daylight saving time is extended to eight months rather than the normal six. The Department of Transportation says the equivalent of 100,000 barrels of oil each day was saved.

1986: Daylight saving time is moved from the last Sunday of April to the first Sunday of April. The end date is left the same.

2005: Congress passes the Energy Act of 2005 which starts daylight saving time one month earlier in the spring and extends it one week later in the fall, beginning in 2007.

SOURCE: National Public Radio (, March 9, 2007)

When most of America sprang forward at 2 a.m. Sunday, the eight-month change to daylight saving time began.

The debate over the advantages and disadvantages of the change has gone on since Benjamin Franklin first suggested it in 1784.

It was first used during World War I to save energy for war production by taking advantage of the later hours of daylight between April and October.

The energy-saving measure was on again, off again for several years until in 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act that standardized the length of daylight saving time.

The Energy Policy Act in 2005. extended daylight saving time by four weeks, beginning in 2007, 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.

Two states - Arizona and Hawaii - and four U.S. territories - American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands - don't observe daylight saving timeThe Web site cuts to the chase of the daylight saving time debate: "If we are saving energy, let's go year round with daylight saving time. If we are not saving energy, let's drop daylight saving time."

Related stories:

PRO: Daylight saving time creates more usable hours

CON: Daylight saving time doesn't reduce energy consumption



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