Saving Daylight

A shot of Little Cottonwood Canyon just before the sunset during a ski day at Snowbird.

A shot of Little Cottonwood Canyon just before the sunset during a ski day at Snowbird.

By Dani Poirier, Environmental and Sustainability Studies Student

We can all relate to adjusting our schedules or that one time you happened to have missed a meeting thanks to daylight saving time (DST). Since daylight saving is just around the corner, I wanted to learn more about this bi-annual event and to understand why we all switch our clocks.

To begin, I just learned that daylight saving does not have a ‘s’ attached to the word saving, despite the many of us that pronounce it with an ‘s’.

Next, did you know that Benjamin Franklin and William Willet, an Englishman, have both been cited as two of the first thinkers to contemplate how to maximize daylight, and operational efficiency, and conserve candles? However, amidst the struggles of Word War I, it was the Germans that were the first to enact DST in order to conserve energy as early as 1916.

DST was also adopted as a wartime measure in the United States two years later in 1918. There was a national repeal of DST in 1919, and many states elected to tick-tock their clocks independently, out of unison, as observing DST was not mandatory. Amidst the World War II efforts, DST was once again in place to conserve energy and wartime resources. Three weeks after the war ended, the chaos of the clocks returned as states could basically decide whether to follow DST whenever they felt like it! Eventually people had enough with the crazy clock schedules, and the Uniform Time Act was passed in 1966 (excluding Arizona and Hawaii).

But what’s interesting is how throughout history conservation efforts were implemented to alleviate wartime shortages, and now conservation efforts are in place to stop the war on climate change. Surprisingly, however, not many studies have been conducted to prove or quantify conservation efforts. There are conflicting studies out: some argue that DST saves energy, while others have found the opposite. National Geographic provides examples of conflicting studies. Because of this lack of concrete studies, I can’t say whether I think DST saves energy and should be in places, or visa versa. However from an outdoor recreationist standpoint, I do favor DST.

Today, representative Fred Cox is hoping to end the clock jumping in Utah. Cox drafted a bill for the 2016 legislative session that would add Utah to the list of DST rebels (alongside Arizona and Hawaii). But this isn’t the first time Utah representatives have tried to push this issue through the state legislature. House Bill 65 proposes that, “The state of Utah shall observe mountain standard time on a year-round basis, without the observance of daylight saving time.” As energy conserving citizens, should we be in favor or against the bill? According to Rocky Mountain Power, “The impact of these various options on power usage in Utah isn’t significant,” claiming that the fluctuating temperature plays a larger role in electricity use than available daylight. “Temperature drives power usage more than daylight.”

Dani taking advantage of the extra hour of sunlight and enjoying some untouched powder.

Dani taking advantage of the extra hour of sunlight and enjoying some untouched powder.

From a recreational standpoint, the time change can be a good thing because it gives us an extra hour of light during the day to play outside and participate in activities such as hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, trail running, etc. Utah Tourism Industry Association wants to keep the status quo for “falling back” and “springing forward” as these time changes allow for longer sunlight hours to recreate. Speaking as a winter recreational enthusiast myself, I don’t support the bill. I’ll take sunlight anytime of year! Having an extra hour of solar rays in my day doesn’t seem like such a bad idea, whether I’m out for a hike or just commuting home from school. What are your thoughts on DST?

Share your thoughts with us at sustainableUtah or contact Representative Fred Cox and let your opinion be heard.

Dani Poirier is a student in Environmental & Sustainability Studies, as well as Strategic Communications.

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