This weekend marked the end of many things - the month of October or the Autumn festival in India. One ending that goes along with this is daylight savings time in the Western countries, which concluded on Sunday at 2 a.m.
The origin of daylight savings time
English builder William Willett first proposed daylight savings time in 1907 in his pamphlet, “The Waste of Daylight.” In the pamphlet, Willett discussed moving up the time 80 minutes between the months of April and October, so people could enjoy more daylight hours and potentially conserve energy.
Willett’s idea was adopted during World War I, first by Germany in 1916 and then by Great Britain and the United States. Both the Allied and Axis Powers were attempting to conserve resources as much as possible.
Daylight savings time in the US
Initially, daylight savings time was seen as disruptive by many in the U.S. and was soon repealed. The practice was put in effect again during World War II. After that, there were no regulations on daylight savings time, so states and cities could practice it how they pleased.
However, this made travel to different cities complicated, so in 1966 the Uniform Time Act was passed. This regulated when the practice would begin and end nationwide. If a state, city or town did not want to participate, it filled out an ordinance, according to nationalatlas.gov.
Additionally, not all states in the U.S. use daylight savings time today. Hawaii, Arizona and territories like Puerto Rico do not participate because they have more consistent daylight during the year.
The practice of daylight savings time has many pros and cons. For example, people monitoring the weather use “zulu” time, a 24-hour clock set on the prime meridian. This universal time system does not obey daylight savings time so they must adjust one hour. The end of daylight savings time also means that it will be darker outside earlier at night.
The benefits of daylight savings time
This stretching of the day has the effect of saving energy because less artificial light is consumed during the evening hours. Demand for electricity is directly connected to our bedtimes, when we go to bed and when we get up. Since bedtime for the majority of us is late evening, by moving the clock ahead in the spring, less electricity is consumed. How? By going to bed one hour earlier in the spring, we no longer light our rooms or use appliances or TVs one hour later in the dark. Multiply the savings in each household by a nation, and you have a lot of electricity saved.
Daylight savings time has helped decrease morning hazards for people heading off to work and for students heading to school. Travelling to and from school or work in daylight is much safer than in darkness. It saves lives because it prevents or decreases the number of traffic injuries. Daylight means it is easier to see pedestrians, easier to see while driving, and easier to see and react to a dangerous situation.
Darkness encourages people to get home and stay home. This means fewer people are out on the streets, out running errands or doing chores. This reduces exposure to crime, which is more common during the hours of darkness than daylight.
Costs of Daylight savings timeThe disadvantages of daylight savings time
Although it is difficult to assess the costs involved with Daylight savings time, there appear to be some costs associated with it. Dealing with people and businesses that follow a different time schedule becomes complicated. Different countries have a different set of rules. With an increase is global trade, the costs associated with Daylight savings time may increase.
The actual switching of clocks has a time cost. In a home there are oven clocks, microwave clocks, VCR clocks, thermostats, radio clocks, answering machines, timers, cell phones and more. Unless there is an automatic time setting, each one must be manually changed.
Daylight savings time has both benefits and costs. It appears to save energy, decrease injury, and decrease crime. But it costs in terms of time spent maintaining clocks and it costs in ways still undetermined in the global marketplace.
Majority of the countries of the world (especially in Africa and Asia) do not observe daylight savings time and people who work across time zones may find it hard to accommodate the time changes. This is also seen in the US where not all of its parts implement daylight savings time.
Daylight savings time causes changes in meeting times, travel, billing, broadcast times, and so on, which all cause a negative effect on the productivity of the economy. Enormous costs are usually expended to reschedule meetings and travel times, correct billing charges and records and to change broadcast timing to coincide with periods of maximum viewing. Many companies and industries invest a lot of capital into implementing solutions that will help their businesses cope with the effect of daylight savings time.
The changes in the times at which Daylight savings time begins or ends, and the extensions that are sometimes added on can cause electronics and computers to malfunction. Most may have been preset during installation to adopt and/or end Daylight savings time at particular dates and any changes may lead to errors in these machines and create problems for the individuals, industries or companies that make use of them.
The shift in time during Daylight savings time causes sleep deprivation and can cause poor health in some people. Medical devices such as pacemakers or defibrillators and glucose monitors have to be adjusted; serious consequences may result if this is ignored.
India briefly followed the daylight savings time to reduce energy consumption during the wars with China and Pakistan. However, it was soon scrapped. There have been many demands to adopt two time zones for the country too. In a diverse nation like ours, people often follow the sun’s position to determine the time of the day, rather than the local standard meridian, specially in the North East.Parting Thought
While energy savings from daylight savings is debatable, its fans assert the important social benefits of daylight savings. There is even documented evidence of Benjamin Franklin calling for change in sleeping patterns of people to conserve candle light. Whatever may be the case, this system has indeed made a mark in the lives of people, and they are unwilling to change.