Time change got you down? This will perk you up. … Maybe.

Let’s be honest: This transition can kind of be a bummer. Bed times are thrown off for your kids, and your only chance of seeing the light of day is if you sneak outside over your lunch break.

Key Points

  • Most states recognized the end of Daylight Saving Time this weekend.
  • It’s the start of the dark season, but there is a bright side — like cozy evenings by the fire.
  • Time changes have a long history, and the jury is still out about if they save energy. 

This weekend marked the end of Daylight Saving Time. We now enter that period of the year when it gets dark at 4 p.m., and we start popping extra vitamin D.

Let’s be honest: This transition can kind of be a bummer. Bed times are thrown off for your kids, and your only chance of seeing the light of day is if you sneak outside over your lunch break.

But there’s a silver lining to the dreary early afternoon dusk. Here are a few things to help you out of your time-change funk:

  1. Mornings are brighter. It won’t be quite so dark when you get up, and at 6:30 it will feel like 7:30. Win!
  2. It’s easier to put the kids to bed. In the summer, it’s really hard to argue with a 5-year-old who won’t go to sleep because the sun is still brightly shining at 8 p.m. Not the case anymore. When it’s dark at 4 p.m., you can easily trick your kids into going to bed at 7 p.m. because it’s “soooooo late.”
  3. Dark evenings are cozy. Light a fire (after making sure you fireplace is running efficiently and safely, of course), make some hot tea and get out the board games. It can be nice to snuggle in on a long, cold evening.
  4. It saves energy. This whole spring forward/fall back thing helps us all use less electricity. Maybe. I’m pretty sure. Or maybe not. Here’s the history on that:
  • 1784 — Ben Franklin writes an essay that suggests adjusting the clocks in the spring could be a good way to save on candles.
  • 1895 — George Vernon Hudson unsuccessfully proposes an annual two-hour time shift to the Royal Society of New Zealand. His goal was to match daylight hours to the times when most people are awake, helping conserve energy.
  • 1905 — A British construction magnate named William Willett tries to convince the United Kingdom Parliament that citizens should adjust their clocks each spring and fall to allow more time for recreation in daylight hours. It, too, fails to get any traction.
  • 1916 — Germany and Austria implement a one-hour clock shift to help conserve electricity needed for the war effort.
  • 1918 — United States first observes Daylight Saving Time, also as a wartime effort to conserve electricity.
  • 1919 — United States repeals Daylight Saving Time as wartime efforts end.
  • 1942 — United States reinstitutes Daylight Saving Time during World War II. This time, several states decide to keep the adjusted hours after the war.
  • 1966 — Congress passes the Uniform Time Act, standardizing the time change as starting in April and ending in October.
  • 2005 — The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extends DST by two months. It now starts each year in March and ends in November.

Some studies have shown that there really isn’t any energy savings associated with DST. In fact, this report by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that in some regions, the extra hour of light in the evening can actually lead to increased electric consumption.

In 2008, the Department of Energy analyzed the theory that DST could save energy and concluded that it could save some electricity but might indirectly add to people’s overall energy consumption.

Overall, it looks like the jury is still out about DST’s energy savings.

Either way, it will help if we all focus on the bright side, even if it’s really, really dark out. 


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned a degree in political science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the governor’s office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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