Why Do We Change the Clocks Twice a Year?

Quck answer

We change the clocks twice a year to observe daylight saving time. This practice aims to make better use of natural daylight and save energy. In the spring, we move the clocks forward by one hour, resulting in longer evenings and shorter mornings. This allows us to take advantage of the extra daylight during the warmer months. In the fall, we move the clocks back by one hour, returning to standard time. This adjustment helps to align our waking hours with natural daylight and promotes energy conservation. Overall, changing the clocks twice a year helps to maximize daylight and improve overall efficiency.


Every year, during the early hours of a Sunday morning in March, we lose 60 minutes from the clock and gain it back each year in November! No, it’s not magic – it’s Daylight Saving Time!

Daylight Saving Time (also known as “Summer Time” in many parts of the world) was created to make better use of the long daylight hours in the summer. By moving the clocks forward an hour in March, we shift an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening. On the first Sunday in November, we “fall back” and reset our clocks to Standard Time.

But where did Daylight Saving Time originate? And how is it beneficial?

The idea was first proposed by Benjamin Franklin in an essay in 1784, and later presented to the British Parliament by William Willett in 1907. However, it didn’t become a standard practice in the United States until 1966. Daylight Saving Time was initially implemented in the United States during World War I and II to take advantage of longer daylight hours and save energy for the war effort.

In the years following World War II, individual states and communities decided whether or not to continue observing Daylight Saving Time and when to do so. This led to some cities being an hour behind others, even if they were only a few miles apart on a map.

To minimize confusion, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act in 1966, which standardized the duration of Daylight Saving Time for the entire country.

Daylight Saving Time is most beneficial for those who live further from the equator, where summer daylight hours are significantly longer than winter daylight hours. In locations closer to the equator, daylight and nighttime hours are almost equal in length throughout the year.

That’s why many equatorial cities and countries do not participate in Daylight Saving Time. In the United States, there are only a few places that do not observe Daylight Saving Time, including parts of Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.

Currently, around 70 countries participate in Daylight Saving Time, although not necessarily following the same schedule as the United States. Figuring out which countries recognize Daylight Saving Time and when can seem like a complex math problem.

In Europe, Daylight Saving Time runs from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October. In the southern hemisphere, where summer begins in December, Daylight Saving Time is observed from December to March. Kyrgyzstan and Iceland observe Daylight Saving Time year-round, while equatorial countries do not observe it at all.

Supporters of Daylight Saving Time argue that, aside from reducing crime and car accidents, extended daylight hours also promote energy conservation by allowing people to use less energy for lighting their homes and businesses. However, opposing studies claim that the energy saved during Daylight Saving Time is offset by increased energy consumption during the darker autumn and winter months.

Try It Out

Ready to move your clocks forward or backward? Check out the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Is Daylight Saving Time observed in your country? Curious about other countries that follow the same practice? Take a look at this map to see which countries observe DST worldwide.
  • Plan ahead! If it’s autumn in your area and you observe Daylight Saving Time, then you’ll soon have an extra hour. How will you use it? Many of us often wish for more hours in the day. Now’s your chance to gain an additional hour. How will you maximize it? Come up with a list of creative and enjoyable ideas to make the most of that extra hour provided by Daylight Saving Time in the fall. We’re considering using ours to brainstorm more Wonders of the Day!
  • While the debate on the usefulness of Daylight Saving Time continues, firefighters across the nation are using it as an opportunity to promote an important message. When you adjust your clocks to “spring forward” and “fall back,” remember to also check your smoke detector. Changing the clocks serves as a helpful reminder to change the batteries in your smoke detector. It’s also a perfect time to review your family’s fire escape plan with your child. Another way to involve your family is by conducting a home fire safety inspection together. Visit Sparky the Fire DogĀ® online for an inspection checklist and to learn more about family fire safety as a team.

FAQ

1. Why do we change the clocks twice a year?

We change the clocks twice a year to observe daylight saving time. This is done in order to make better use of daylight during the summer months. By moving the clocks forward one hour in the spring, we can enjoy longer evenings and more daylight. In the fall, we move the clocks back one hour to standard time, which allows us to have more daylight in the morning.

2. How did the practice of changing clocks begin?

The idea of daylight saving time was first proposed by Benjamin Franklin in 1784, but it was not implemented until World War I. During the war, countries found that by adjusting the clocks, they could save energy and make better use of daylight. Since then, many countries around the world have adopted the practice of changing clocks twice a year.

3. What are the benefits of changing the clocks?

Changing the clocks twice a year has several benefits. One of the main benefits is that it helps to save energy. By having more daylight in the evening, people can rely less on artificial lighting, which in turn reduces electricity consumption. Additionally, changing the clocks can also have positive effects on public safety, as it reduces the number of accidents and crimes that occur during darker hours.

4. Are there any drawbacks to changing the clocks?

While changing the clocks has its benefits, it also has some drawbacks. One of the main drawbacks is the disruption it can cause to our sleep patterns. When the clocks are moved forward or back, it can take time for our bodies to adjust to the new time. This can lead to feelings of fatigue and difficulty sleeping. Additionally, some argue that changing the clocks can be unnecessary in today’s modern society, as we have artificial lighting that can be used to extend daylight hours.

5. Is changing the clocks practiced worldwide?

No, changing the clocks twice a year is not practiced worldwide. While many countries in Europe and North America observe daylight saving time, there are also many countries that do not. Some countries choose not to change the clocks because they are closer to the equator and do not experience significant changes in daylight throughout the year. Other countries have tried daylight saving time in the past but have since abandoned it due to lack of significant benefits.

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