Story at a glance
- Daylight saving time is set to end on Sunday, Nov. 6.
- This means that most Americans will need to set their clocks back an hour starting at 2 a.m.
- Not every state observes daylight saving time.
The nation will turn its clocks back an hour at 2 a.m. on Sunday to mark the shift from daylight saving time to standard time for another year.
Few will complain about getting an extra hour of sleep on a November Sunday, but even fewer likely are looking forward to losing an hour when clocks are moved forward again in the spring on March 12.
Here are five things to know about the practice.
It wasn’t started because of farmers
Countries around the world move their clocks forward during the summer months to provide more daylight at night.
It effectively means the sun comes up a little later under daylight saving time and also goes down a little later at night than it would under standard time.
Many believe that daylight saving time was created to help farmers. In fact, farmers initially hated the idea and fought against it for years.
The exact person who came up with daylight saving is still up for debate, but the practice is often credited to a New Zealand entomologist and artist named George Vernon Hudson, who presented a paper on the idea in 1895.
Daylight saving was first used globally during World War 1
Daylight saving time did not take off until the early 20th century, when the Germans picked up the practice in 1916 to save on coal during World War 1.
The British followed the Germans’ example just a few days later, and most of the rest of Europe soon followed suit.
Even back then, the concept was divisive. The agricultural industry actually lobbied against legislation that would allow the practice of daylight saving in 1918, along with rail workers who feared the practice would increase the risk of accidents on single-track railways.
Eventually, daylight saving time was adopted on the national level the following year when the Standard Time Act was signed into law.
But the adoption was short lived. The part of the law about daylight saving time was repealed a year later, and the practice wasn’t adopted again until former President Franklin D. Roosevelt reinstated it during World War II in order to conserve fuel.
Farmers were able stop the national use of daylight saving time until 1966 when the Uniform Time Act was enacted by former President Lyndon Johnson.
Whether it works or not is up for debate
The verdict is out on whether daylight saving time conserves energy.
The first study looking at the issue was conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1975. It found the use of daylight saving time decreased national electricity usage by 1 percent compared to standard time.
In 2007, then-President George W. Bush extended the start and end time of daylight saving time by amending the Uniform Time Act to change the date when Americans push their clocks back from April to March.
About a decade later, an analysis of 44 papers on the efficacy of daylight saving found that overall, the practice saved 0.34 percent of electricity use.
The analysis also found that the practice was more likely to help places farther from the equator save energy, while it caused places close to the equator to use more energy.
Two states don’t have daylight saving time
Hawaii and most of Arizona do not follow daylight saving time.
Hawaii opted out of this part of the Uniform Time Act in 1967 because of its proximity to the equator, which means the sun rises and sets around the same time every day, all year round.
Arizona decided to stop observing daylight saving time a year after Hawaii so that residents wouldn’t lose an hour in the morning, when the temperatures in the state are more manageable during the hottest time of year.
Several U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S Virgin Islands and American Samoa do not follow daylight saving time, either.
Daylight saving time could come to an end. But it’s up to the House
If that bill became law, it would end the practice of going back and forth between daylight saving time and standard time.
Under the bill, daylight saving time would become permanent in every state except for Hawaii and most of Arizona, which don’t practice it anyway.
If the House doesn’t take action before the end of the year, the legislative process would need to begin again with the next Congress. This means both the Senate and House would have to pass a new piece of legislation.