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Perkolations: Thoughts on saving daylight

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By now we’ve all gotten used to daylight saving time, but I have to say that when I woke up at 5:30 a.m. — excuse me, 6:30 a.m. — the Monday morning after the change, I couldn’t help but wonder, why on Earth do we do this?

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History shows that though the idea for daylight saving time came a couple decades earlier, the United States adopted the change during World War I. The idea was to allow factories to use less energy by taking advantage of sunlit hours later in the evening rather than incandescent lighting.

From what I’ve read, studies are varied on whether daylight saving actually has a positive impact on energy use.

Between World War I and World War II, states were allowed to choose whether to observe daylight saving time, but during World War II the states were again required to take on the change.

In 1966, the length of daylight saving time was standardized, and in 2007 the United States extended daylight saving time by four weeks.

Long before daylight saving time, individual locations were allowed to choose the time they thought was appropriate for their area. How interesting ... and confusing. I picture travelers constantly confused over what time it was in their current location.

In 1883, I’ve read, it was the railroads that developed the institution of standardized time. In 1918, time zones became U.S. law.

One of the best things about Minnesota summers are the long days. The flip side, of course, is that one of the worst things about Minnesota winters are the extremely short days.

The number of daylight hours we get seems to come and go rather quickly. I heard we’re currently gaining three minutes of sunlight a day.

A month ago, I walked into a 6 p.m. city council meeting in complete darkness. In March, I walked in during daylight and nearly came out in daylight, too. Even with daylight saving time change aside, that’s a pretty extreme change in a brief period of time.

I’m realizing, though, that daylight saving time really only has a positive impact on my life for a short period of time in the spring and fall. In the spring, I get the benefit of enjoying more sunlight after work. And in the fall, it seems to relieve me from going to work in the pitch dark, though only for a little while.

After that, the days get so long or so short that it doesn’t seem to matter too much how you manipulate time.

Though I fought the snooze button that first Monday morning after the change, I’m always happy to have the evening sunlight.

Daylight saving is a sure sign of spring, and boy do we need it. I’m in favor of the change, and relishing the sun. Summer is on the way.

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