What's the purpose of Daylight Saving Time?

Hadas Kuznits
March 09, 2019 - 3:17 pm
Daylight Saving Time

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Don't forget to "spring forward" and set your clocks ahead one hour. Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday.   

But what's the point of making this time shift?  

Franklin Institute Chief Astronomer Derrick Pitts recounts the history of Daylight Saving Time.

"This practice was first adopted in the 18th century in Europe to save candle money," Pitts explained.

He says the point is to align our clocks with what the sky is doing.

"At one time it was thought that shifting time like this really helped our productivity," he said, "but studies have shown that perhaps it doesn't help our productivity as much as we think it does."

READ: Daylight Saving Time: Don't forget to spring forward

He says that's because nowadays, people don't rely on sunlight in order to get things done during any particular hour.

"We have artificial illumination to make it easier for us to work during those times when we don't have natural light," Pitts said.

And he says the idea that we're suddenly gaining one hour of sunlight right now is inaccurate.

"The time shift has been gradual as we've been moving along from the beginning of the year really, and as we continue along we'll pick up those minutes faster and faster as we go past the first day of spring and will slow down with that increased number of minutes of daylight as we approach summer solstice," Pitts explained. "Then it all flips around and we start to lose the minutes of sunlight during the day, right from the first day of summer heading toward the summer solstice."

In 2007, Daylight Saving got a few weeks longer, running from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November.