Daylight saving time was instituted in the United States as an energy-saving measure to allow people to take maximum advantage of available daylight. Although its effects in that regard remain questionable, the practice has been a boon for summertime retail business, increasing the length of the shopping day for consumers and thereby allowing stores to increase their sales volume.
Daylight saving time has often been traced to a proposal written by Benjamin Franklin in 1784. However, he was actually satirizing the Parisian lifestyle, urging the French to rise earlier in the morning. The first serious modern daylight saving proposal was put forth in 1907 by British house builder William Willett, who sought to encourage greater outdoor activity during the summer months. In spite of considerable lobbying, he was unable to convince the British government to adopt his plan.
Only the fuel shortages brought about by World War I convinced several of the belligerent nations to put daylight saving time into effect. However, it was so unpopular that all governments dropped it after the armistice. The United States reinstated mandatory daylight saving time as an energy-conservation measure during World War II, but after the war ended, the federal government left the decision to retain daylight saving time up to the individual states. In 1966, Congress passed the
Opponents have criticized daylight saving time as saving nothing, since it merely moves the observed hours forward rather than adding a real hour. In addition, there are serious questions about whether it realizes any energy savings in a society in which lighting is a relatively minor consumer of power compared with computers and other technology. By contrast, retail businesses tend to favor daylight saving, because it often results in consumers shopping later in the afternoon and evening, producing more revenue for stores.
Several U.S. states do not observe daylight saving time. For decades it was resisted by Indiana, which straddles the eastern and central time zones, but the state has adopted a unified time except for a few counties adjacent to Chicago or Louisville. In 2005, a law was passed by the Indiana General Assembly putting all of Indiana on daylight saving time beginning in 2006. Arizona also does not observe daylight saving time, except in several of the nominally sovereign Native American reservations.
Barnett, Jo Ellen. Time’s Pendulum: From Sundials to Atomic Clocks, the Fascinating History of Timekeeping and How Our Discoveries Changed the World. San Diego, Calif.: Harcourt Brace, 1999. Dolan, Graham. The Greenwich Guide to Measuring Time. Chicago: Heinemann Library, 2001.
Arab oil embargo of 1973
U.S. Department of Energy
Energy crisis of 1979