Can you tell us who regulates the daylight savings time change and makes the decision on the start and stop dates? There are states such as Hawaii, Arizona and a few select areas that have somehow opted out. Also, why are we on daylight savings time so much longer? It used to be about six months each, and now there are eight months of daylight saving time and four months of standard time. It seems that it is creeping closer and closer to daylight saving time all the time.
— Alice, Central Point
Here at Since You Asked timekeeping central, we're groggily at your question-answering service. We should be good at this — after all, the boss always refers to us as "clock-watchers."
But we digress.
We'll start with a quick history lesson. No, wait, first a quick terminology lesson: It's actually called daylight saving time even though most of the heathens we hang with insist on adding an "s" to the end of "saving."
Now the history lesson: Founding Father Benjamin Franklin suggested shifting time in an essay called "An Economical Project," and the country first dipped its toes in the daylight saving time waters during World Wars I and II. But observance of daylight saving time was left to states and municipalities until the Uniform Time Act of 1966, which originally stipulated that it start on the last Sunday of April and end on the last Sunday of October.
Year-round daylight saving time was tried, and proved unpopular during the Energy Crisis. President Nixon signed the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Conservation Act of 1973, and our great nation had 15 months of late sunsets between January 1974 and April 1975.
The country reverted to equal parts daylight saving and standard time until Congress amended the law in 1986 to extend daylight saving time three weeks by starting it on the first Sunday of April starting in 1987.
You can thank the 109th U.S. Congress for our current guidelines. One of the provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, signed into law by George W. Bush, extended daylight saving time another four weeks to begin at 2 a.m. the second Sunday in March and end at 2 a.m. the first Sunday in November. That's how we've set our clocks (or let our cellphones set them for us) since 2007.
You pointed out the two rogue, sunny states that eschew the caffeinated rigmarole of remembering which radio button resets a Honda clock. That's because the Uniform Time Act allows individual states to remain on standard time if their legislatures allow it. In addition to Arizona and Hawaii, daylight saving time is ignored by U.S. territories Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa.
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