Yeah, I know you are all tired, what with losing an hour of sleep thanks to moving your clocks back an hour for Daylight Saving Time.
That lack of sleep is responsible for an increase in traffic accidents the Monday following the time change in major city centers, as our bodies are still adjusting, according to many local cop shops, and scientists that study this sort of thing.
The scientists say if we actually did the clock change on Friday night (giving us Saturday and Sunday to adjust) instead of Saturday night (giving us only Sunday to adjust) our bodies – and vehicles – would be better off.
But there is a method to the madness and it tugs at your environmental heart strings.
Falling back and springing forward saves energy. Energy to heat, light and power our homes is directly connected to when we wake up in the morning and when we go to bed at night. For all but you night owls – you know who you are – most of us go to bed in the late evening and wake again in the early morning. While we’re under the covers, most of our lights and other appliances are turned off – unless you fell asleep watching the boob tube.
By moving the clocks ahead one hour in the spring, the average home cuts its energy use by about 25 percent.
Here’s how it works -- Daylight Saving Time adds an hour to the day – giving us an extra hour of sunlight, which in turn reduces the period between sunset and the average bedtime by one hour. That translates into less electricity used for lighting and appliances late in the day. We tend to use more electricity in the morning because it is darker, but that’s balanced by the energy we save at night.
As the days are longer, we tend to be home fewer hours during the day. Aside from the warmer sunnier weather promoting us to spend more time outside, studies show we tend to do more when the days are longer. These studies show we tend to prefer to do everything from housework to grocery shopping under a sunny sky – the increased amount of daylight actually motivates us on a subconscious level.
Maybe that’s the theory behind the term “spring cleaning?”
Also, as the days are “longer” we have more light later into the evening, meaning we can delay turning on our lights to see.
In the United States during the energy crisis of the 1970’s, Congress put most of America on extended Daylight Saving Time for two years to save energy. The American Department of Transportation conducted a study during this extended time shift and found it saved the equivalent in energy of 10,000 barrels of oil each day, for a total of 600,000 barrels in each of those two years.
Daylight Saving Time also keeps us safe. Makes sense, there is more daylight, so there are fewer car and pedestrian accidents caused by traveling under the darkness of the night. The same American Department of Transportation study found that about 50 lives were saved and about 2,000 injuries prevented, by extending Daylight Saving Time during the energy crisis in the 1970’s. The study says that amounts to about $28 million saved in motor vehicle accident costs.
Another reason we do it is because it is just a Canadian thing to do.
Despite Daylight Saving Time changes across the globe, the whole process was invented by Canadian Sir Sandford Fleming to keep the goods and people traveling by train across North America on time. Fleming created time zones which were first used in 1883 to standardize train schedules.
Train travel made time keeping obsolete under the old system where major cities and regions set clocks according to local astronomical conditions. Fleming may not be father time, but his standard or “mean time” and hourly variations from that according to established time zones was adopted at an international conference in 1884. Standard Mean Time – Sir Sanford Fleming’s invention is the way we tell time to this day.
So wake up sleepy head, springing forward is something we Canucks should be used too.