Daylight saving time 2020: When do we set our clocks back?

If you like having extra hours of sunlight in the afternoon, this is not your time of year.

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Daylight saving time (DST), that gives you those long hours of sunlight, ends at 2 a.m. local time on Sunday, Nov. 1, two weeks from Sunday.

You’ll need to set your clocks back (“fall back”) one hour before going to bed on Halloween night.

Why do we do this? Good question. 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 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 the practice of changing the clock twice a year, though some state legislatures have discussed ending the practice.

Florida passed a bill last year to move the state to year-round daylight saving time. California, Oregon and Washington State have proposed year-round daylight saving time bills.

While states may favor it, only congressional action can make it so. The U.S. Congress would have to amend the Uniform Time Act to do away with DST.

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