Daylight Savings Times - Why We Have It, Why We Should Have It, Why We Should Not

Daylight savings time - we have all heard of it. Most of us participate in it... but what exactly is daylight savings time, and why do we have it?

Daylight savings time was started so that we could "save" daylight. The United States went on "extended daylight savings time" around 1975.

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Daylight savings time keeps the daylight for when we want it - during the time that we are active at work and school. It is most common in temperate regions, because of the great variation in the amount of daylight versus darkness throughout the seasons in these regions.

Daylight Savings Times - Why We Have It, Why We Should Have It, Why We Should Not

Is daylight savings time really necessary, though? Does it really help us if it starts to get light outside at 7am rather than 8am, etc.? One of the major reasons for daylight savings time does not have to do with peoples' preferences at all. Rather, one of the major reasons for daylight savings time is for energy conservation.

In theory, residential electricity use is reduced because of daylight savings time - the amount of electricity that people use at home is contingent upon when the sun sets. If the sun sets closer to the time a person goes to bed, that person will not need to use as much electricity as he would if the sun set long before he went to bed.

People tend to go to bed at the same time all year round. Therefore, if we artificially move the sunset one hour later, a person will need to use less energy in the summer - he will not need to keep the lights on as long just because it is dark outside if he is in bed.

The need for morning lighting in the winter is also important. During the summer, people generally wake up after the sunrises no matter what - the days are simply longer. During the winter, though, people are only likely to wake up after the sunrises if the time of that sunrise is artificially changed by daylight savings time.

Daylight savings also allows an increase in opportunities for outdoor activities. It is important that people get out and do something and remain active, even during the winter months, and it helps if it is still light outside when they want to be outside.

Daylight savings is also good because it is light outside when people drive home from work - there is less of a chance of accidents when the drivers can see better because of the light. There is also the chance that daylight savings time reduces crime (it reduces that chance that a person will be the target of crimes that are more commonly committed in dark areas).

Of course, not all people have good things to say about daylight savings time. In fact, daylight savings time is not accepted universally. There are many places that do not actually observer daylight savings. Many people do not like have to adjust their clocks twice a year for so few perceived benefits. Other people do not like the disruptions in sleep patterns from setting the clock forward or back - this actually correlates with auto accidents and lost productivity. Also, some people simply forget to change their clocks and they may show up late or early to work, etc.

Also, daylight savings time may add to an increase in summertime air conditioning costs. More sunlight at home means that people are also experiences more heat at home. Air conditioning often uses even more electricity than lighting does.

There is also the chance that because of the added daylight, more people are going to jump in their cars to enjoy it, and therefore add to pollution.

Also, people working in agriculture do not appreciate daylight savings time - their animals most certainly do not observe it!

There are many more reasons why people do not like daylight savings time. Many of the reasons that people criticize daylight savings time are the same reasons that people praise it - there is debate over whether or not daylight savings time actually decreases the energy that people use or the number of traffic accidents. There are many more experiments that must be run before it can be decided exactly how good of an idea daylight savings time really is.

Daylight Savings Times - Why We Have It, Why We Should Have It, Why We Should Not

Anne Clarke writes numerous articles for websites on gardening, parenting, fashion, and home decor. Her background includes teaching and gardening. For more of her articles on history and clocks, please visit Wall Clocks.