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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Daylight savings again

Should skip the bs

Twice a year, we either wake up an hour earlier or an hour later than expected. Don't get caught off guard this time when Daylight Savings Time begins on March 8.

When local standard time hits 2 a.m. on Sunday, clocks will turn forward one hour in the long held tradition signaling spring has arrived. Aside from Hawaii, Arizona, and all island United States territories, most of the country "springs forward" as an energy-saving measure that dates back to 1966 when the Uniform Time Act was implemented.    

While parties like the California Energy Commissioncontend small amounts of saved energy add up to big savings, U.S. lawmakers aren't convinced DST benefits outweigh the costs.

Rep. Elizabeth Scott (R - WA) recently told a House committee that biannual time switches are lead to health problems and accidents due to a lack of sleep. Last week, Idaho House Majority Leader Mike Moyle (R-ID) introduced a bill that would eliminated the state's observance of DST because it is a "disruption to families, businesses and individuals."

Sen. Cliff Pirtle's (R- NM) proposal has DST in effect year-round. The state's Senate Public Affairs Committee voted 5-1 last Thursday to advance Pirtle's bill.

DST was first embraced during World War I when extended daylight helped conserve coal. It was continuously praised throughout the decades as a cost-saving measure, though Tufts University lecturer Michael Downing refutes the claim, saying it's a commercialized measure that's good for retail and bad for energy.

"This standardized time change was no favor to farmers, who now had an hour less of morning light to milk their cows and get their goods ready for maker, let alone for commuters or children waiting for school buses in the dark," Downing said.

Some people complain about losing sleep while others will be grateful for the extra daylight. Eight months later, they will bask in the extra slumber and be more cautious drivers when the sun sets an hour earlier. In some ways it balances out, but not because small amounts of energy are being saved.

"So today we have eight months of daylight savings and only four months of standard time," Downing said. "Can you tell me which time I the standard?"

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