Not all of America wants to ‘fall back’ and ‘spring forward’

Why do we change our clocks? During World War I, Germany shifted its clocks to save electricity.

  • Tuesday, October 30, 2018 1:30am
  • Life

By Vicky Hallett / The Washington Post

Almost exactly a year ago, Florida State Senator Greg Steube left the barbershop with more than a haircut. The woman giving him a trim complained that after the recent time change, her kids’ schedules were off. Other customers had different objections to moving clocks back an hour. Then someone Googled why so many of us “spring forward” in March and “fall back” in November to observe daylight saving time.

The answer? During World War I, Germany shifted its clocks to save electricity: Wake people up an hour earlier, the sun feels like it sets an hour later, and you don’t need to turn on as many lights. The concept caught on around the world, including the United States, which first introduced daylight saving time in 1918 (although it didn’t become permanent in most of the country until nearly 50 years later).

But times have changed — and so have energy costs. In 2006, Indiana joined in on daylight saving time, leaving Hawaii and Arizona as the only states that don’t observe it. That created a “natural experiment,” said Yale University economics professor Matthew Kotchen, who studied data from before and after Indiana’s switch and discovered that energy use increased slightly after.

Kotchen’s other finding: “Everyone is confused about daylight saving time.” Many folks think it starts in the fall, which is when it ends. They’ll tell you it’s for farmers, who don’t care about time (animals don’t wear watches). Some even believe it extends sunlight, a trick that would require controlling the Earth’s rotation.

Back in that barbershop, the customers told Steube they were done adjusting clocks. When he went to work on the issue, he quickly learned that the majority of Floridians agree. But there’s a hitch. The state prefers year-round daylight saving time, not standard time, and that’s against U.S. law. So Congress would need to change the law.

Maybe senators and representatives will be swayed by what’s happening across the Atlantic Ocean, where Europe may soon abolish its twice-yearly clock changes. The European Commission, which represents 28 countries, recently asked for public comment on what it calls “summertime arrangements,” and 4.6 million people responded — 84 percent in favor of picking a time and sticking with it. (The majority were German!)

The European Parliament will vote by next spring, when clocks are slated to jump ahead possibly for the final time. Then it’s up to each country to decide whether to stay on summertime, or fall back in October to permanent wintertime.

It’s an easy choice for Sean Kelly, an Irish member of Parliament who’s opposed clock changes since childhood, when “falling back” made it too dark to play soccer after school. He’s already fantasizing about how he’ll celebrate next fall. In that last hour before sunset, Kelly vows, “I will go for an hour-long walk or cycle.”

Fall back: Remember to set your clocks back one hour before bedtime on Saturday, Nov. 3. Standard time begins Nov. 4.

Talk to us

More in Life

Photos by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times 

The Jacob and Sarah Ebey House will open to public visitors Memorial Day weekend.
A landmark steeped in 19th century history reopens on Whidbey

Beginning May 28, you can venture inside one of the state’s oldest buildings: The Jacob and Sarah Ebey House, which dates from the 1850s.

Caption: Incorporating frozen vegetables into your menu plan is a fast and cost-effective way to save money on rising food costs.
The secrets of cheap meals: frozen veggies and slow cookers

They not only stretch your food budget, but also timesaving godsends for busy parents. Here are three recipes to try.

Cinderella_Red.jpg: Red Riding Hood (Katelynn Carlson) gets advice from Cinderella (Grace Helmcke) in Red Curtain’s production of Into the Woods, running May 20-June 5 at the Red Curtain Arts Center, 9315 State Ave. in Marysville.
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Marysville troupe stages a Stephen Sondheim musical masterpiece. Jazz, featuring the sons of legend Dave Brubeck, takes over Edmonds. And there’s this music festival in downtown Everett …

Navigating the rough, often scary seas of a hospital stay

After helping a friend who underwent major surgery, Paul Schoenfeld reflects on ways to cope for patients and their loved ones.

Sam Bowles records the run off the water from a chalk drawing with friend and co-artist, Rhyanna Mercer, Tuesday afternoon in Everett, Washington on May 10, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Jackson High’s global TikTok star is chalk full of ideas

Sam Bowles, 18, uses vibrant videos and social media fame to raise awareness of autism.

I canceled my flight to Frankfurt, but now I can’t use my credit

Melissa Crespo receives a $2,060 ticket credit when she cancels her flights to Frankfurt, Germany. But now her online agency has told her she can only use 25% of the credit at a time. Can it do that?

Lonicera ciliosa, commonly called orange honeysuckle or western trumpet vine. (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: orange honeysuckle

Its orange trumpets announce spring is here, and hummingbirds are irresistibly drawn to it.

Home & garden happenings in Snohomish County

The Mill Creek Garden Tour will return this summer after a two-year absence due to COVID-19.

Photo Caption: Would you believe a zipper sold for $18,450 at Morphy Auctions? What about a diamond necklace that looks and works like a zipper?
X-Y-Z spells ‘big money’ with this high-fashion zipper

It’s actually a necklace, but the zipper function works. Someone paid nearly $18,500 for it at a recent auction.

Most Read