Daylight Savings Time may become permanent, but at what cost?


Most can relate to the somber feeling, especially as Ohioans, of the realization that a cold winter is approaching when one looks outside your window at 6:00 p.m. and it is completely dark. The United States has Daylight Savings to thank for the early sunsets as every November, the clocks are turned back an hour, giving people an extra hour of sleep that night and ensuring darker afternoons for the next five months until we turn the clocks forward an hour in March. But why the time change?

The idea of Daylight Savings Time (DST) has been around for hundreds of years but wasn’t implemented in the United States until 1918. In the late 1700s, Benjamin Franklin originally came up with the idea of waking up earlier during the summer months to make use of the daylight and conserving candles. However, it was first implemented in Canada in 1908 for the purpose of conserving energy. DST then became popularized by Germany in 1916 during World War I when they implemented it for the purpose of conserving energy for the war. Many countries followed suit after Germany, including the U.S. two years later. 

The U.S. has changed its DST system many times mostly due to different energy conservation efforts over the past hundred years. The system we use today was crafted in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which made it so that DST began on the second Sunday of March and ended on the first Sunday of November.

Today, most western countries use DST and the majority of the world does not. However, the Senate passed a bill in March without objection to making DST permanent. Many House members also support the bill and President Biden has yet to state an opinion on the issue. The goal is to get the bill passed before DST ends in November so that we would keep our clocks in the time they currently are. Supporters of the bill think permanently living in DST will improve sleep patterns and health overall.

This actually isn’t the first time the U.S. has tried to make DST permanent. In the 70s during an attempt to conserve energy, yearlong DST was implemented with the thought that if evenings had more daylight, people would use less energy. The yearlong DST was supposed to last two years but got reverted back to the original system before then because people generally disliked the dark mornings more than dark evenings and it didn’t seem to save energy either.

Although the new bill hasn’t been implemented yet, the community has opinions on the issue. Senior Ian Murphy has similar views to those in the 70s.

“I did not know they were trying to do that, but I like daylight savings because in November, you get an extra hour of sleep and I like that it’s not dark out when I go to school,” Murphy said. “If we don’t get our hour back this November, I’ll be very disappointed and I won’t know how to deal with it.”

But some people like the idea of having more light in the afternoons even at the cost of a sunny morning.

“I knew they were trying to pass the bill, and I like it because if it passes, it’ll stay lighter for longer and I like when the sun sets later,” senior Ella Isenbarger said. “I don’t really mind if it’s dark in the morning.” 

Science teacher Jordan Walker agrees, noting that there are after-school activities that would be able to have more sunlight in the afternoon if the bill were passed.

“When I think about fall sports, I know athletes are playing in the dark sometimes and maybe [permanent DST] will prevent some of that,” she said.

However, Murphy feels there are flaws to the line of reasoning behind the bill and its supposed positive impact on health.

“I don’t think it will help mental health and that it’ll do the opposite because when you wake up and it’s dark out, you can feel really unmotivated,” he said.

Walker has an opposing view to Murphy’s and is focused more on the potential benefits of a lighter evening.

“It’s nice going home after a long day of work or school and it still feels like you have time in the day to enjoy things. As far as mood, I think having more light after I’ve been stuck inside all day is going to be beneficial,” Walker said. “People being able to go outside and enjoy nature and fresh air, which have been proven to improve someone’s mood, should be beneficial.”

It cannot be confirmed how permanent DST would affect the country if it is implemented and with so many different elements to the topic, it’s difficult to say how the house and Biden will vote on the bill. It’s possible that the attempt from the 1970s reflects how Americans today would feel about permanent DST, but the world is so different now that it may not be accurate to compare. For now, enjoy the late sunsets and take advantage of the rare sunny moments Ohio gifts us during the spring.