We generally think of “springing forward” as a good thing. It suggests getting ahead — in a race, in a job, or in the progress of a civilization.
Most of us in the United States will “spring forward” tonight, with the return of Daylight Saving Time. Whether that’s good or bad depends on your perspective. Some enjoy the extra hour of sunlight that’s added between the end of the work day and sunset. Others don’t enjoy having to leave for work or school when it’s still dark outside.
The idea of springing forward during the months of more daylight hours caught on during World War I, with the United States adopting it in 1918.
It lasted less than a year, but was reinstated during World War II. After the war, individual states were free to use Daylight Saving Time or not, for any part of the year they chose. It was standardized in 1966, and since then it’s been extended to take up a greater chunk of the year.
The rationale for the modern version of Daylight Saving Time is that people tend to use less energy during the dark early morning than they do after darkness falls in the evening. So the idea is that extending daylight by an hour in the evening cuts down on energy use. Study results are mixed, but most do show a small savings.
For now, just remember to set your clocks forward at 2 a.m. local time — an hour that you’ll get back when Daylight Saving Time ends and we “fall back” in November.
Tomorrow: making the night sky darker.
Script by Damond Benningfield