Every single year, right around this time, an overwhelming amount of people throughout much of the United States start to feel like they’ve lost something very valuable to them. And, understandably, they feel wronged by this loss – have felt this way since 1966, in fact. (Oh, how the time flies.)
Folks like to blame Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson for their collective problem (since he signed the Uniform Time Act into law), but really, it goes back much further than him. Some experts credit the former, American statesman Benjamin Franklin with the original concept of Daylight Saving Time, his basic idea being to make the best use of daylight hours by shifting the clock forward in the spring and backward in the fall – generally for the sake of aiding the agricultural society of the time by giving the farmworkers more time in the fields. And like the pendulum of a grandfather clock, so we’ve been falling back and springing forward in the name of Daylight Saving Time ever since.
Well that’s just dandy, but what’s the benefit today?
In our more modern times, the core idea of Daylight Saving Time – to take advantage of more daylight hours – has absolutely remained, but it has also expanded its purpose to – believe it or not – energy conservation.
According to a 2008 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy, American electricity use decreased by 0.5% for each day of extended Daylight Saving Time, resulting in a savings of 0.03% for the year as a whole. Now this might not sound like much, but it adds up to a total annual electricity conservation of 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours overall – or the amount of electricity used to completely power about 122,000 average households for an entire year. And these electricity savings generally occur within just a three- to five-hour period in the evening time.
(To learn about how you can save even more energy during Daylight Saving Time, visit the DOE’s Energy Saver website for tips and tricks backed by science.)
Oh, well that IS cool! But what should I do with all this saved time and money?
Well, since spring is usually a time of excitement after the long shuttering of winter – and folks now have a bonus hour of sunlight every day – we’d suggest taking advantage of that warmer weather. Get outdoors some more; maybe spend some of those saved dollars on a new pair of boots and go take a hike (literally), or take a bike ride around the new neighborhood.
Or, get to know the new neighbors with an assist from Nextdoor.com (it’s like a private social network for your neighborhood), and spend some time with them by inviting them on over for movie nights at home, watching some favorite shows and movies via an Amazon Fire Stick, or playing a favorite board game. And, looking a little bit further out beyond the immediate neighborhood, Meetup.com – the world’s largest network of local groups – has nearly 25 million members that are part of more than 9,000 self-organizing groups looking to gather and have some fun, learn something new, or try a weird restaurant together. There’s an activity for everyone on there, so click around and see what’s happening nearby.
And the next time Daylight Saving Time shows up to move the hands of time, rather than bemoaning him, thank him – and Benjamin Franklin – for the extra opportunity to save some cash, to get out more, and to be a better neighbor.