Sunday, March 9, at 2 a.m., Daylight Saving Time (DST) takes effect and time will once again spring forward.
The concept was designed to allow us to enjoy an extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day until October when we drop back an hour.
The idea of shifting daylight has been fraught with controversy since Benjamin Franklin first conceived the idea. And, the arguments continue today.
A recent letter sent by Duke Energy to local newspapers urges caution in drawing conclusions from a preliminary study on Indiana and DST released by University of California-Santa Barbara. Duke is not endorsing the study and questions some of its conclusions.
"The study," claims Duke Managing Director of Customer Market Analytics Richard Stevie, "took its results from southern Indiana counties and made broad extrapolations in assigning fiscal impact for the entire state."
Duke questioned the analysis of the impact of weather conditions which they consider the single biggest driver of electricity usage.
They claim the study assumes the cost of lighting in the afternoons during DST is offset by higher air-conditioning costs on hot afternoons and increased heating costs on cool mornings. The study fails to consider that most of Duke's customers in the study area do not use electricity to heat their homes.
They also object to the lack of energy data from industry and business claiming that most of the energy demand comes from that sector.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) conducted a poll in 2007 indicating that Americans like DST because of the addition of evening light and because it saved energy. Another DOT study showed a small but significant amount of electricity is actually saved equalling about one percent per day in each household.
According to the study, energy use and demand for electricity is directly related to when people go to bed and when they rise. In the average home, 25 percent of electricity is used for lighting and small appliances, such as TVs, VCRs, DVDs and computers. Most of the energy consumed occurs in the evenings when families are at home. By moving the clock ahead one hour, usage decreases.
Additionally, the report shows that less electricity is used during the "longer" days of summer as people are outside in the extra daylight hours. Not being at home uses less energy.
Accidents also decrease with DST. Several studies in the U.S. and Great Britain have found the shift reduces net traffic accidents and fatalities by close to 1 percent. An increase in accidents in the dark mornings is more than offset by the evening decrease.
Arguments against DST revolve around the inconvenience of changing clocks and adjusting to a new sleep schedule. This is particularly hard on people with sleep disorders.
There is some correlation made in the severity of auto accidents increasing and work productivity decreasing as people adjust to the change.
Indiana has a long history of controversy regarding DST. Historically, the state's two western corners, which fall in the Central Time Zone, observed DST, while the remainder of the state, in the Eastern Time Zone, followed year-round Standard Time.
Additionally five southeastern counties near Cincinnati and Louisville unofficially observed DST to keep in sync with those cities.
In April 2005, legislation was passed implementing Daylight Saving Time statewide beginning April 2, 2006.
Daylight Saving Time has had a strong impact on a wide variety of unexpected areas from Middle East terrorism to Halloween to twin birthdays.
A man, born just after 12 a.m. DST, used the time change as a loophole to avoid being drafted. He argued that standard time, not DST, was the official time for recording births in his state of Delaware in the year he was born.
Under official standard time, he was actually born on the previous day, giving him a much higher lottery number and allowing him to avoid the draft.
In September 1999, the West Bank was on DST while Israel had just switched back to standard time.
West Bank terrorists prepared time bombs and smuggled them to their Israeli counterparts, who misunderstood the time on the bombs. As they were being planted, they exploded one hour too early. The explosion killed three terrorists instead of the intended victims, which were two busloads of innocent people.
Up until 2006, DST in the U.S. ended a few days prior to Halloween. A new law extending DST to the first Sunday in November beginning in 2007 provides trick-or-treaters more light.
This is designed to offer more safety to children pedestrians, as deaths are four times higher on Halloween than on any other night of the year. An added bonus is an increase in profits for the candy manufacturers.
A set of twins born on the day of the time change had their birth order changed. The first baby arrived five minutes prior to the time change. The second arrived five minutes after. At least on paper the siblings changed birth order with the second becoming the oldest.