Daylight saving time 2019: When do we set our clocks ahead?

If you live for those extra hours of daylight in the afternoons that daylight saving time brings, take heart, your time is coming.

Daylight saving time, that is.

On March 10 at 2 a.m. most of America will be “springing forward” as clocks are shifted forward an hour, giving us more daylight in the afternoon.

While many look forward to more daylight hours in the afternoon, more states are deciding they want to opt out of the twice-a-year time changes (we “fall back” in November).

Why do we do this? Here’s a look at why we started using DST and why we continue to do it.

How it started

We can blame New Zealand entomologist George Hudson for daylight saving time. He wanted extra hours after work to go bug hunting, according to National Geographic, so he came up with the idea of just moving the hands on the clock. William Willett, who is the great-great grandfather of the band Coldplay's Chris Martin, according to the BBC, arrived at the same idea a few years later and proposed moving the clock forward in the spring and back in the fall in his work, "British Summer Time."

Willett’s idea was picked up a few years later by the Germans, who used it during World War I as a way to save on coal use. Other countries would soon follow suit.

In the U.S., DST was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson in 1918.

Why did the U.S. do it?

The idea of setting clocks ahead in the spring was pitched as a way to help farmers with crops and harvesting. In reality, it was department stores behind the push for adjusting clocks, looking for another hour of shopping time in the afternoon and evenings.

Others have argued that DST saves energy. A 1975 study by the U.S. Department of Transportation showed that DST accounted for a savings of about one percent a day in electricity use.

While most of the country and about 40 percent of the world use DST, there are some exceptions. Two states – Arizona and Hawaii – and several territories don't fall back or spring forward with DST. Arizona has not observed DST since 1967 when it filed for an exemption under the DST exemption statute. Hawaii, too, opted out under the exemption. The state has never used DST.

Will we keep it?

It’s likely that most U.S. states will continue the practice of changing the clock twice a year, though some state legislatures have discussed ending the practice.

Californians passed a plan for year-around daylight saving time, as did Florida.

However, keeping DST year-round requires a vote of Congress, and that has not happened.

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