Daylight saving time 2017: When do we set our clocks back?

by: Debbie Lord, Cox Media Group National Content Desk Updated:

If you are still irked about losing that hour of sleep last March when most of the country went on Daylight saving time, here’s some good news – you get it back this Sunday. 

Daylight saving time (DST) ends at 2 a.m. on Nov. 5, and if you haven’t heard already, you need to set your clocks back (“fall back”) one hour before going to bed on Saturday.

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

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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 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.

Will we keep it?

It’s likely that most U.S. states will continue to use DST, though some state legislatures have discussed ending the practice. In August, the Maine legislature passed a bill that would end DST. A provision to the bill requires Maine voters to approve the change in a referendum, and the referendum could only be triggered if Massachusetts and New Hampshire agree to drop DST, also.

November 7 -- Time changed! Americans waved bye-bye to Daylight Savings Time (until March, anyway) and set the clocks back an hour to Standard Time.
Elise Amendola/AP

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