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Posted 3/09/11 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman

Farmer Editor

For nearly a century, Americans have joined the majority of the world in the spring ritual of turning our clocks ahead one hour on a given Sunday and then in the fall turning their clocks back. And this year will be no different. Come this Sunday morning at 2 a.m. (or earlier if you prefer) we will be “springing forward” to begin daylight saving time.
But why do we have daylight saving time anyway?
The story of daylight saving time actually goes as far back as 1897 when countries began instituting daylight saving time by adding an hour of sunlight to the day. The idea behind the concept was to make communities more productive by allowing people to work longer, and when work was done it would still be bright enough for people to run errands and stimulate the economy. As a benefit, the added daylight meant people had more time to exercise outdoors.
Another benefit supposedly was that by tweaking with the time, it would result in less energy being used. A study by the U.S. Department of Transportation showed that the country’s electricity usage is cut by one percent each day because of daylight saving time. The savings were brought about because a good percentage of energy consumed by lighting and appliances occurred in the evening when families were home. By moving the clock ahead one hour, the amount of electricity consumed each day decreased. But another study questions whether or not messing with the clock really saves money when you take into consideration that people will only have more time to jump in their cars and drive to parks, golf courses or malls.
And apparently the U.S. Congress definitely believes that there is an energy savings component by having DST because as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress pushed daylight saving time three to four weeks deeper into the fall in an effort to combat growing energy problems.
While I dislike losing an hour of sleep in the spring, I personally like daylight saving time. Since we, in McKenzie County, live on the extreme western edge of the central time zone, being able to be outdoors in the summer until nearly 10 p.m. before it gets dark has its benefits.
So this Saturday evening before you go to bed, don’t forget to begin the process of turning all of your clocks ahead one hour. And it can be quite a process as you not only have to change your conventional clocks, but you also have to break out the owners’ manuals to figure out how to change time on your televisions, VCRs, DVDs, computers, and the clocks in your vehicles. And if the process seems to be too overwhelming, at least turn one alarm clock ahead one hour so you won’t be late for church. You can then make changing over the rest of the clocks a Sunday afternoon task.