Americans will turn their clocks an hour forward on Sunday, March 8, for Daylight Saving Time, giving many the chance to enjoy an extra daylight hour in the evening. The second Sunday in March has marked the beginning of Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. since Congress passed legislation in 2007 mandating the practice, though states have the option of opting out, as both Arizona and Hawaii have done.
While Daylight Saving Time came about in the U.S. as a product of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the annual clock shift only saves a minimal amount of energy, with a leading author on the subject saying that the practice only cuts electrical use by 0.5 percent. A 2008 study from Indiana echoed this idea, finding that there was little change in energy use after parts of the state adopted Daylight Saving Time.
Benjamin Franklin has long been credited with producing the original concept of Daylight Saving Time back in the 18th century. The American founding father had observed during a visit to Paris in 1784 that people tended to sleep during the sunny early hours of the summer while wasting candles in the evening for light, the Wall Street Journal reported. Franklin futilely proposed that it would make sense to rise earlier in order to enjoy daylight later in the day and to cut down on the need for candles.
It was during World War I that the practice of Daylight Saving caught on, with Germany and its allies first setting their clocks back in April 1916 in order to keep factories open for longer hours and conserve fuel, according to the Washington Post. The U.S. and England later also adopted the practice, though its implementation has remained controversial in the U.S..
Clocks around the country were set an hour ahead starting in 1942 and continuing for the duration of World War II, with the goal of conserving energy. Many farm workers objected, however, arguing that Daylight Saving Time would result in fatigued farmers, who would have to rise before the sun, according to Time. This concern had continued into the present day, with farmers and agricultural representatives in Idaho lobbying state legislators to exempt the state from observing the clock change.