The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler, and the birds are heading south. This must be why so many people are asking me, "When do we set our clocks back again to end daylight saving time?"
This year, it's Sunday, Nov. 4. At 2 a.m. We move our clocks back one hour to put daylight saving time to bed until next year. You finally get back that hour of sleep you grumbled about losing way back in March when daylight saving time started.
Daylight saving time used to end in late October, but Congress in 2007 pushed it back to the first Sunday of November. It begins the second Sunday in March. Conceived by Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, critics declared it was like trying to make a blanket longer by cutting a foot of fabric off one end and sewing on to the other.
The return to standard time means sunset comes an hour earlier. The good news for morning people is that sunrise shifts an hour earlier, to 6:43 a.m.
Time zones and daylight saving time are overseen by the U.S. Department of Transportation. States can opt out of daylight saving time, but only two do: Arizona and Hawaii. Curiously, the state of Indiana is divided on time-zones. The decades-long Indiana time zone debate remains controversial. Some argue that the entire state should move to Central Time, while some others would prefer to have the state return to the non-observance of DST.
With a large agricultural heritage, many farmers oppose DST because their days are controlled by the sun, not the clock. Farmers are often dependent on younger workers whose parents want them home by dinner, and when the sun is up later in the evening, farmers miss out on recreational activities that only happen late. When the sun is still up at 9pm to 9:30pm, the farmer is still in the field, while others have been off work for hours.
Opponents of putting the entire state on one time zone often cite out-of-state cities as their reason of opposition. For example, counties in Northwestern Indiana are part of the Chicago metropolitan area. Many residents commute to Chicago, which is on Central Time. Counties in the southeastern corner of the state are suburbs of cities such as Cincinnati, Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky, who both observe Eastern Time. In the southwestern corner of the state, Evansville serves as the central hub of a tri-state area that includes southern Illinois and western Kentucky (both on Central Time).
Supporters of daylight saving time and a common time zone in Indiana often claim Indiana must adopt the time-keeping system of the Eastern United States to preserve interstate business with that region. Some believe that Indiana businesses have lost hours of productive time with out-of-state colleagues because the time quirks are too confusing to keep track of on a daily basis. The confusion caused to outsiders featured prominently in the plot of an episode of The West Wing in which presidential aides unfamiliar with Indiana's non-observance of DST miss their return flight to Washington, D.C., on Air Force One and express consternation with the variances in the state's time measurement.
Detractors of daylight saving time claim that scientific studies assessing the impact of the time policy change to DST in Indiana have identified a significant increase in energy usage and spending on electricity by Indiana households. Indiana households paid an additional $8.6 million in electricity bills according to University of California, Santa Barbara economics professor Matthew Kotchen and Ph.D. student Laura Grant, while supporters of Daylight Saving Time point to studies such as Professor Kotchen, the Department of Transportation and organizations such as the California Energy Commission claim that the United States saves approximately 1% of energy when Daylight Saving Time is being observed.