History of Daylight Saving Time: Why do we Spring forward?


It seems like only yesterday that we discussed the end of Daylight Saving Time. DST is a brilliant campaign to convince people that we’re getting more daylight each day when in reality we’ve merely changed our clocks and then forgotten about it within two weeks. Actually, it was only back in November, or less than five months ago.

Indeed, the new rules for DST that began in 2007 meant an extra four or five weeks of DST each year. There is now a total of 238 days of DST, compared to the total of 210 days of DST back in 2006 under the previous rules, and the U. S. remains on DST for about 65% of the year. So if you think about it, DST will be in effect for most of the year, Standard time is no longer the standard. It might be more significant to recognize Daylight Losing Time.


DST begins each year at 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday in March in most of the United States and its territories. However, there are some places that have not bought into this campaign: it is not observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands nor the state of Arizona except for the Navajo Indian Reservation, which does observe DST. You can read my original full article on the origins of DST in Europe and America here.

Now: an answer to the age-old question “Does DST actually save energy?”


The Department of Energy released a study in early November 2008 showing that Daylight Saving Time does, in fact, save energy.

Daylight Saving Time Climate

  • The total electricity savings of Extended Daylight Saving Time were about 1.3 Tera Watt-hour (TWh). This corresponds to 0.5 percent per each day of Extended Daylight Saving Time or 0.03 percent of electricity consumption over the year. In comparison, the total 2007 electricity consumption in the United States was 3,900 TWh.
  • Regarding national primary energy consumption, the electricity savings translate to a reduction of 17 Trillion Btu (TBtu) over the spring and fall Extended Daylight Saving Time periods or roughly 0.02 percent of total U.S. energy consumption during 2007 of 101,000 TBtu.

How much again? We’re talking two one-hundredths of a percent annual energy consumption reduced! How long will DST remain as it is today? Some are arguing for changes even now.

How will you spend these energy savings?

Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian

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3 comments… add one
  • Bill,

    I’ve enjoyed your succinct explanations for years.

    P.S. Please don’t think badly of me for continuing to use AOL. If you must banish me from your cyber sphere, I’ll understand.

  • SO…. I went out and found a Forbes article listing the average price of energy and they quoting reliable sources estimated $23.31 per Million BTUs as the cost of Electricity. If I plug in your numbers of 17 Trillion BTU saved (17,000 million – check my math please) I get $447.2k in savings….I think the disruption alone in computer programming, reminders announcements everywhere, etc. easily eats that up… I think I will vote to pick one time and stick with it… OR if “they” would like to give me the “savings,” I would consider maintaining the insanity.

    • Tom,

      I think you’re on to something there :-)



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