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Business, Energy, Numbers, STEM

It’s Crazy Clock Time Again

BigBen_London, EnglandWhen you go to bed tonight, most U.S. residents will reset at least one of their analog or digital clocks, watches, or other time pieces. This annual ritual of moving or springing forward one hour is the beginning of daylight saving time (DST). I won’t be making any adjustments to my devices and neither will most of the residents of Arizona, however, we will all mark the beginning of DST in the U.S. on Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 2:00 a.m.

Some folks look forward to DST each year. Others call it clock confusion. What is confusing for some is that all American states and territories do not participant in DST, and are not required to do so by the federal government. I never knew that until I lived in Ohio. The neighboring state of Indiana did not observe DST except for a small area near Chicago, IL. Today, the entire State of Indiana observes DST.

Most of Arizona is on Mountain Standard Time (MST) year round except for the Navajo Indian Nation. I moved to Arizona the same weekend that DST was ending. Unaware that the state did not participate in this annual clock-resetting ritual, I was late for work the next day. I stumbled again in the spring, and was an hour early for church services. I attribute all of this to my being a creature of many habits that includes observing DST all of my life. The State of Arizona said cease and desists from this practice! All was not lost that Sunday morning in an empty parking lot. There was at least one other new member staring with glazed over eyes in the parking lot with me. We decided that our ignorance could be swallowed with a hot breakfast and coffee.

It is now permanently etched in my brain that Arizona, at least where I live in metropolitan Phoenix, does not observe DST. It is pretty simple – go to bed and get up at my usual times. However, since I have relatives, friends, and professional ties across the U.S., I also need to be conscience that one-half of the year, the east coast is three (3) hours ahead of us, and only two (2) hours ahead the rest of the year. Other states and territories not observing DST are Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Marianas Islands.

Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s founding fathers and signers of the Constitution and early to bed, early to rise fame, is credited for first raising the concept of DST in this country. [Ref 1] At the time he realized that it would be beneficial to take advantage of more daylight, however, he never figured out how to implement it.

It wasn’t until World War I that daylight savings were realized on a grand scale. Germany was the first country to adopt the time changes with energy savings in mind – reducing artificial lighting would save coal for the war effort. Other countries soon followed. In the U.S. a federal law standardized the yearly start and end of daylight saving time in 1918—for the states that chose to observe it. [Ref 1]

There have been numerous changes and amendments to the U.S.’s practice and efforts regarding DST. Coupled with these changes are questions of whether or not energy savings are being captured? And whether this annual ritual serves a useful purpose? Numerous time studies show that in some instances energy costs increased, and in other cases relatively or little no changes. However, there are actual cases were true savings have been documented.

Another pro and con argument that accompanies DST is its impact on one’s productivity and health. The pros argue that DST promotes a more healthy, active lifestyle with more opportunities to exercise and enjoy the outdoors. The cons argue that America’s productivity has decreased leaving many of us tired and susceptible to illness.

While the experts debate the issues, I won’t be anticipating springing forward tomorrow morning just spring. This winter has been especially rough on those east of the Rockies. After all of that snow, ice and extremely cold weather this winter, it is time for spring.

References:

1.      Daylight Saving Time 2014: When Does It Begin? And Why? Why we “spring forward,” and arguments for and against daylight saving time, by Brian Handwerk for National Geographics, March 6, 2014, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140306-daylight-saving-time-dst-clocks-spring-forward-science-nation/

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About Vi Brown

Vi is principal and CEO of Prophecy Consulting Group, LLC, an Arizona firm that provides business and engineering services to private and public clients. Prior to establishing her consulting practice in 2001, Vi worked with Motorola, Maricopa County Government, Pacific Gas & Electric, CH2M Hill, and Procter & Gamble. As an adjunct faculty member, Vi teaches undergraduate calculus classes and graduate level environmental courses. She is also a professional speaker.

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