When does daylight savings time start? At 2AM on Sunday, March 10, 2013, we “spring ahead” and set the clocks an hour forward, kicking off daylight savings time, or DST, and “losing an hour” of sleep, as folks are fond of saying. Daylight savings time ends at 2AM on Sunday, Nov. 3, when we “fall back” and give ourselves an extra hour of sleep.
Daylight savings time represents an effort to save energy, as it shifts daylight during the winter months from the morning to the evening, resulting—in theory—in people using less power. While many credit Benjamin Franklin with the idea, since he encouraged folks to wake up early and take advantage of daylight, modern daylight savings time didn’t come into being until 1916, during World War I, when Germany and its allied nations implemented the schedule change as a means of conserving coal for the war effort. The United States followed in 1918, and today, much of North America and Western Europe observe daylight savings time.
Daylight savings time remains somewhat controversial, and as the New York Times reported in 2012, experts disagree on whether springing forward and falling back makes sense. A 2001 State of California study suggests DST does save a small but significant amount of energy, both in the summer and winter months, while a 2008 Indiana study found the opposite. “Our main finding is that—contrary to the policy’s intent—DST increases residential electricity demand,” that paper concluded.
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