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The Ultimate Sign of Autumn: End of Daylight Saving Time

The end of Daylight Saving Time (NOTE: No “s” on “Saving”!) is THE ultimate sign of Autumn! Do you know the history?

An original idea behind “Daylight Saving Time” is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. He melded science with economics and wrote in a letter April 26, 1784, to the Journal of Paris, under the English title An Economical Project: “183 nights between 20 March and 20 September times 7 hours per night of candle usage equals 1,281 hours for a half year of candle usage. Multiplying by 100,000 families gives 128,100,000 hours by candlelight. Each candle requires half a pound of tallow and wax, thus a total of 64,050,000 pounds. At a price of thirty sols per pounds of tallow and wax (two hundred sols make one livre tournois), the total sum comes to 96,075,000 livre tournois. An immense sum, that the city of Paris might save every year.”

Perhaps a more formal atrtribution would be that, in pursuit of insects, entomologist George Vernon Hudson was interested in conserving daylight. The New Zealander had shift-work at the Wellington Post Office and wondered how he could catch more bugs in the summer when dusk came early. In October 1895 he proposed a two-hour shift forward in October and a two-hour shift back in March to the Wellington Philosophical Society. While the idea was laughed off at first, Hudson had a friend in parliamentarian Thomas Kay Sidey who spent 20 years reintroducing a bill that would implement the daylight saving measure. Sidey argued that the schedule adjustment would give people more time during the summers to enjoy the outdoors and cut down consumption of artificial light. His labor paid off in 1927, when he passed the Summer Time Act, which trialed an extra hour of daylight.

Britain’s advocate for daylight saving time was William Willett, who in 1907 proposed setting clocks forward in the summer. Willett proposed setting clocks forward 80 minutes through four 20 minute increments beginning in April. Willett died from influenza in 1915, but Britain implemented the daylight saving time a year later to save fuel during World War I.

Daylight Saving Time has been used in the United States and in many European countries since World War I. The plan was not formally adopted in the United States until 1918. 'An Act to preserve daylight and provide standard time for the United States' was enacted on March 19, 1918. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 (15 U.S. Code Section 260a) which was signed into Public Law 89-387 on 12 April 1966, by President Lyndon Johnson, created Daylight Saving Time to begin on the last Sunday of April and to end on the last Sunday of October. Any State that wanted to be exempt from Daylight Saving Time could do so by passing a State law. In 1972, Congress revised the law to provide that, if a State was in two or more time zones, the State could exempt the part of the State that was in one time zone while providing that the part of the State in a different time zone would observe Daylight Saving Time. The Federal law was amended in 1986 such that Daylight Saving Time:

  • began at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of April and
  • ended at 2:00 a.m. on the last Sunday of October

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. beginning in 2007, though Congress retained the right to revert to the 1986 law should the change prove unpopular or if energy savings are not significant. Going from 2007 forward, Daylight Saving Time in the U.S.:

  • begins at 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday of March and
  • ends at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of November

In most of the countries of Western Europe, including the countries that are members of the EU, Daylight Saving Time:

  • begins at 1:00 a.m. GMT on the last Sunday of March and
  • ends at 1:00 a.m. GMT on the last Sunday of October

So - at 2:00 a.m. Sunday ,November 6, wake up, turn your clocks back an hour, and go back to sleep to enjoy that extra hour!

Article by: W. Jerrold Samford, Environmental Compliance Specialist, Troutman Sanders.