In Defense of Daylight Savings Time

The reason daylight savings time (DST) was initially implemented was to save energy by taking advantage of more hours of natural light, although many studies show that this has resulted in minimal savings.

It wasn't until World War I was underway (1918 for the United States) that nations began to use daylight savings time.  It was later repealed, reinstated for World War II, and made more uniform and permanent in 1966 for those states and territories which decide to participate.  Hawaii, most of Arizona, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands don't observe DST.

The extra hour of sunlight helps businesses in general because many people, primarily for safety reasons, simply do not like to drive or shop at night.  As realtors, the extra hour of usable sunlight gives us an extra hour to conduct business during weekdays, because many potential buyers who are looking at houses after work, want to see the houses, and their surrounding neighborhoods, while there is still daylight.

But the main reason daylight savings time is a benefit for most Americans, is that it gives people one more hour of "usable" daylight.  Most working people (those who still have full-time jobs during our four year "recovery") wake up, get themselves ready, scoot off to work, and later return home from work.  If there is an extra hour of sunlight in the morning, particularly during summer, it's wasted.  It's after work that the average person plays ball with his kid, rides his bike, or goes shopping - activities that many people don't want to do during the nighttime.  So even though DST began as a way to save energy, it has become a quality-of-life issue.

Of course no law can benefit everyone equally, and some laws which benefit most people, are bound to have a negative effect on others.  Most of the purported bad effects on the body due to a one hour change in time, sound similar to a temporary case of jet-lag.  If the effects on the body are more dire, as AT's Rick Moran believes, perhaps we can just make daylight savings time permanent by moving the clock ahead year-round, as many AT commenters have suggested.  This would eliminate those ill-heath effects of our current "spring forward" and "fall back" system.


Dan Nagasaki is the author of a book for teens and young adults: The Beginner's Guide to Conservative Politics.  Glenn Doi is a real estate broker in Los Angeles.