The PR Struggles of Daylight Savings Time

Why can't we "spring forward" on a Friday afternoon?

daylight savings sucksQuick quiz: how many readers woke up late Sunday morning, thought they were in a time warp (or a little more hungover than expected), and then realized it was Daylight Savings Time. Yeah, me too. We think that happens to much of America.

Well, every American state/territory but Arizona, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico.

We are stuck with this time schedule until November, when we return to standard time and 18 hours of darkness each day. Whatever plans you had for Sunday were thwarted because you had to get up an hour early and “spring forward,” only to hit snooze and then “fall back” into bed.

First passed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1918, this law was supposed to be a federal distinction to help us all, so why all the bad PR and angst?

Daylight Savings Time was created as “fast time” idea to support America’s efforts in World War I. Sure, it was repealed eight months later, but some guy known as FDR thought it might work again to support World War II in 1942, so he brought it back. Today, thanks to The Energy Policy Act of 2005, daylight savings time begins the second Sunday in March and ends the first Sunday in November…and the rest of us have to deal with the consequences whether we like it or not.

daylight-savings-timeIf Congress ever wanted to earn back those perpetually misplaced brownie points, they could repeal it again. Few things on this planet get worse PR than springing forward and falling back.

Countless myths about losing that one precious hour must be debunked: farmers are to blame, extra Vitamin D makes us a happier nation, businesses see concrete benefits, et cetera. However, there are none more disputed than the idea that “daylight savings time actually saves energy.”

In 2006, Indiana was forced to ignore farmers in 15 of the state’s 92 counties because one hour of cropping in the dark didn’t matter as much as other people going to the office. When the state adopted DST, University of California-Santa Barbara economics professor Matthew Kotchen and Ph.D. student Laura Grant secured more than 7 million monthly meter readings from Duke Energy Corp.

That study found a slight increase in energy use that cost the state’s residents about $9 million; the researchers believed that the extended use of air conditioning in the evening was largely to blame.

When Presidents Wilson, Roosevelt, and Bush hoisted the DST banner, they left a loophole: states’ rights. No state is forced by federal mandate to accept this cockamamie edict, so someone needs to take to Change.org or We the People (thanks Obama) to demand a change.

Congress probably hit the snooze times this morning and went back to bed anyway.