One time all year round? I did not see that coming

As long time readers know, I grumble about that biannual ritual in the US of changing the clocks forward by one hour in the spring (when it becomes Daylight Savings Time) and then one hour back in the fall (when it reverts to Standard Time). We just made the change this past Sunday and I went around changing the eight clocks that are not connected to the internet. You would think that I would have been on top of this issue but I was taken completely by surprise to learn that the US Senate yesterday unanimously passed a resolution making DST permanent

That does not mean that the deed is done. The House of Representatives has not passed the measure and Joe Biden has not stated that he will sign the bill into law.

The House of Representatives, which has held a committee hearing on the matter, must still pass the bill before it can go to President Joe Biden to sign.

The White House has not said whether Biden supports it. A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to say if she supports the measure but said she was reviewing it closely.

The National Association of Convenience Stores opposes the change, telling Congress this month “we should not have kids going to school in the dark.”

Since 2015, about 30 states have introduced legislation to end the twice-yearly changing of clocks, with some states proposing to do it only if neighboring states do the same.

The House Energy and Commerce committee held a hearing on the issue last week, where Representative Frank Pallone, the committee’s chairman, said, “The loss of that one hour of sleep seems to impact us for days afterwards. It also can cause havoc on the sleeping patterns of our kids and our pets.”

Pallone backs ending the clock-switching but has not decided whether to support daylight or standard time as the permanent choice.

At the hearing, Beth Malow, director of the Vanderbilt Sleep Division, argued daylight savings time makes it harder to be alert in the morning, saying it “is like living in the wrong time zone for almost eight months out of the year.”

Pallone cited a 2019 poll that found 71% of Americans prefer to no longer switch their clocks twice a year.

Daylight saving time has been in place in nearly all of the United States since the 1960s after being first tried in 1918. Year-round daylight savings time was used during World War Two and adopted again in 1973 in a bid to reduce energy use because of an oil embargo and repealed a year later.

The bill would allow Arizona and Hawaii, which do not observe daylight saving time, to remain on standard time as well as American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

If we are to have just one time all year round, I would have preferred to keep Standard Time since that would mean earlier sunrises in winter mornings and children would not have to go to school in the dark.


  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    I would prefer not switching. And I would prefer Standard Time. Daylight Savings Time is just a way of lying to yourself. It’s like those people who are always late, so they set their clock ahead by ten minutes. If someone things DST is better, they can eat lunch at 11:00 instead of at noon.

  2. says

    I would prefer standard time, but a **constant** time is preferable to the current mess. Expect Canada and Mexico to quickly follow suit and enact fixed clocks if it passes, solely for economic reasons. Businesses directly across the borders might as well open and close at the same.

    I haven’t switched clocks in twenty years and don’t miss it. How long did it take you to get used to it? Coming from Sri Lanka *(small, almost on the equator, always 12 hours of day and night)* and next door to India *(only one time zone)*, it was probably never a thought for your first twenty years.

  3. steve oberski says

    British Columbia and Ontario have passed legislation to do away with the time switch, they are awaiting neighbouring provinces and US states enacting this before they implement it.

    Currently, only Yukon and most of Saskatchewan observe permanent daylight time.

  4. Mano Singham says

    Intransitive @#2,

    You are right that this never crossed my mind growing up in Sri Lanka because not only did we not do it, there was no internet and international phone calls were prohibitively difficult and expensive so one did not have to deal with calculating time differences with other countries.

    It was easy for me to get in the habit of switching clocks after I came to the US (even if I disliked it) because I am a punctual person and my mind revolts at having clocks read the wrong time, even by a few minutes. So I would carefully reset all the clocks in the house (and car) the night before the switch. My car clock gains a minute or so every month and when it is off by two minutes, I adjust it.

  5. Pierce R. Butler says

    … that biannual ritual …

    Semi-annual. Sfaik, our only biannual national ritual is House elections.

  6. says

    Apparently, many people either forgot or are not aware that we tried this in the early 1970s after the ’73 oil embargo. I was in high school at the time. Support for it plummeted after it was enacted. No one wanted to send their kid to school in the dark. I remember people saying “This is stupid. We don’t have to turn the lights on when we get home, but we have to have them on when we get up.” My friends and I walked to school, and it was no fun at all. Around here, it wouldn’t get light in winter until 8:30 AM.

    I imagine that if you live in Florida, like sponsor Marco Rubio, the late sunrise isn’t so extreme, and you might think it’s a good trade-off. Certainly, the US Chamber of Commerce and lobbyists for outdoor recreation (e.g., golf courses) think it’s a great idea. At least that’s what they said to Congress the last time we monkeyed with this, circa 2005-2007. Of course, where I live, on standard time, the sky would start to brighten at 4 AM on midsummer. No thanks.

    The thing that gets under my skin is that, in spite of all the problems that we have, from climate change to wealth inequality to failing infrastructure to insurrections at the Capitol, all our so-called representatives can agree on is screwing with the clocks. They say that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Well, it didn’t crumble overnight, either. The US is where it is because of mass and momentum, not because it’s forward thinking. And that momentum isn’t going to last forever.

  7. brucegee1962 says

    Fricking morning people — I’m DST all the way.

    The “kids going to school in the dark” is a crock. Half the time that happens anyway in the winter even with the clocks shifted.

    For lots of people, the day doesn’t really begin until they get off work. If the shades of evening are already starting to fall by then, it is literally depressing. In a society where more and more people work indoors, we should try to maximize the daylight when people are able to be out and about.

  8. jrkrideau says

    IExpect Canada and Mexico to quickly follow suit and enact fixed clocks if it passes, solely for economic reasons.

    Indeed but like Mano and Reginald Selkirk I think I would prefer Standard time.

    Quite a while ago, perhaps 15 or 20 years ago, I was listening to a Radio Netherlands program, the host was interviewing a woman from Canada about time zones in Canada. I almost fell out of bed laughing.

    She started by saying there were 5 and a half time 1 hour time zones in the country since Newfoundland is 1/2 hour ahead of the Atlantic time zone, then started explaining that we changed from Standard Time to Daylight Saving Time and back every year except of course Saskatchewan does not and then proceed to say to a few funny things such as a few places British Columbia apparently informally stay on Mountain Time because they’re much closer to Calgary or Edmonton then to Vancouver. About this time the host started to babble a bit and I think they change the topic.

    @ steve oberski
    I had not realized Yukon stayed on Standard Time.

  9. says

    That’s not a “crock”, it’s real. I lived it. Under EST, I walked to school in the light, and under DST, it was dark. Now you may prefer one over the other, but don’t deny reality (and yes, I understand that this depends on your latitude, mine being around 43-44 degrees).

    I guess there are advantages to living in a country that is small enough to have a single time zone (by “small enough”, I mean that at noon, the sun will be roughly overhead everywhere; so no more than a few hundred miles across at my latitude).

  10. says

    jrkrideau (#9) --

    Northeast BC, the towns up there (Ft. St John, Dawson Creek) which are on the plain, past the Rocky Mountains. Maybe it has changed, but the used to stay on a fixed time and switch between BC and Alberta time. They’re closer to Prince George, but it’s easier and safer to drive to Edmonton than through the mountain pass, especially in winter.

  11. says

    Here’s a radical idea: instead of changing the clocks, change the time kids go to school!

    BTW. AM stands for ante-meridiem, before the meridiem. PM stands for post-meridiem. And meridiem is when the sun is as high as it can be that day, i.e., more or less noon (depending where in your time zone you are located). Constant DST sure screws that up for us pedants.

  12. DrVanNostrand says

    DST all the way. Screw morning people. Still, I’d accept standard time if that’s the compromise I have to make to get rid of the damn switching.

  13. Trickster Goddess says

    #4 @Chigau:

    “Saskatchewan uses Central Standard Time year-round.” However if you look at a world time zones map, you will notice that all of Saskatchewan actually lies between the meridians defining the Mountain time zone. So in reality they are actually observing Mountain Daylight Time all year round. The equivalent would be if BC and the west coast states declared themselves to be on Mountain Standard Time all year round instead of Pacific Daylight Tiime.

  14. chigau (違う) says

    Time zones are defined for political and economic reasons, not solely on relation to meridians.
    If we changed clocks based on what we perceive to sun to be doing, we’d change for 6 months at a time.

  15. fentex says

    I live 52 degrees south and have always enjoyed (well, it was introduced when I was a kid) daylight saving.

    It’s no chore to enact, provides for longer summer evenings and the idea individuals can just swim against tides if they want to use different timing that is impractical anti-social nonsense.

    The only people I’ve heard with understandable complaints about it are farmers who find the abrupt change hard to adjust to and deal with.

    THe world has seasons, they are inevitable and unavoidable -- adjusting timing (an artifical tool) to make better use of their natural provision of light is rational and effective.

  16. Holms says

    Clearly the best system to choose, if sticking with a single one for the year, is whichever puts the clock most closely in line with the actual day night cycle. It’s always going to be a bit clumsy as the zones must follow the borders of states, but if 12PM approximates the sun’s zenith and midnight its nadir then that is about as close as it can get.

    #7 jimf
    I wonder if it might be preferable for schools to adjust their opening hours.

  17. Heidi Nemeth says

    I went to 8th grade in Switzerland in 1966. They did not change clocks there at the time. But our schedules changed. The summer schedule (April through October) had classes starting as early as 8 am, but winter classes began at 9 am.

    In 1980 (?) most European countries adopted daylight savings time in the summer. Switzerland decided not to. But Switzerland was in the middle of all those other countries. Travel through Switzerland was -- a problem. The next year Switzerland changed and joined its European neighbors in adopting daylight savings time.

    Sadly, the Americans and the Europeans have not agreed upon when to start and stop daylight savings time. It would be helpful if we did.

  18. garnetstar says

    Eastern Standard, please. It’s important to have more light when you are starting the day: light signals to your brain that it’s time to wake up, and so you can work or attend school better when it’s light. In the evening, artificial light can make up for the sort of winding-down, leisure time things you do.

  19. K says

    I agree with the people who said to change the school start times. Where I live, the local high school is 9 miles away (a 50-minute bus ride), and the neighborhood is the first pickup/last dropoff. The high school starts at 7 am; the bus picks up the kids at 5:50 am (because apparently the kids have to mill around outside in the dark outside the school for 15 -- 20 minutes before they’re allowed to go to their lockers).

    Where I live, it’s only light at 5:50 am for about 2 weeks at the height of summer (when school is out).

    Why does high school start so early? Because the sportzballz team (i.e. football) needs after-school time to practice and despite their million-dollar lighting system, they must not practice in the dark. Therefore, the needs of the 20 sportzballz team players supercede a high school of 4,000.

    In contrast, the middle-school kids don’t start until 9:30 am (long after most parents must be at work) and don’t get home on the bus until after 5…at which point the high schoolers have been home nearly 4 hours and are long-past ready to eat dinner.

  20. anat says

    My preferences: 1) DST all year. 2) keep it as it is -- change the clock but keep the time on ‘standard’ relatively short (one of the few things I am thankful to W for). My happiest time of the year is shortly after spring forward day, and the most depressing shortly after fall backward day. I love being able to have my evening commute in daylight.

    I spent most of my younger years in Israel, latitude around N 32, subtropical climate. For a long time For a long time daylight saving was not implemented due to objection of religious politicians (their reasoning was that Jewish prayer times are set relative to sunrise/sunset so changing the clock would mean prayer times would clash with work schedules -- not sure how they manage in winter). People complained that with the sun rising early in the summer many had trouble remaining asleep, so wouldn’t it make more sense to change the clock to move work start time closer to when people were waking up anyway, thus shifting sleep schedules to better overlap the hours of darkness?

    At some point daylight saving started being implemented, but the starting and ending dates were up to political negotiation each year. The big struggle was over the switch back to standard due to Jewish holidays in late summer/ early fall, but now it looks like things have settled into a more typical schedule of switching from late March to late October.

    Regarding farming, in Israel farming communities tend to shift working hours earlier during the summer in order to avoid having to work outside during the hottest hours.

    If Israel had been on daylight saving all year then in my childhood daylight in mid-winter would have started at 7:45 or so, meaning most students would have had to make their way to school in morning twilight, but then they would have had time to play outside after school in daylight.

    I spent a couple of years of my childhood in Europe, mostly in the Netherlands. Since I lived in a suburb and attended an international school in the city I had a long commute, and in winter I was waiting for the bus in the dark. It was also dark shortly after I got home. It was not a big deal from my POV as a child. Now in the PNW my son took the bus in the dark during his high school years. He has never been a morning person, and I don’t think it mattered to him whether it was light or dark -- he was equally miserable.

  21. anat says

    K, Seattle is having success with switching start times such that elementary schools start first and high schools last, to be more in line with the change in many young people’s biological clocks in adolescence. (And I suppose this also helps parents of younger students accompany their kids to bus stops or schools).

  22. K says

    There’s talk in my state of switching school hours to more align with children’s actual body-clocks, so as you say, the little ones who wake up earliest will go to school earliest, and the teens with the later wake-up time go to school last.

    The overwhelming opposition seems to be, “BUT SPORTZZBALLZ! How will they practice or ride the (taxpayer paid) bus in the afternoons?!?”

    It’s depressing.

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