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Turn clocks back one hour this weekend

Daylight Saving Time ends this weekend

November 02, 2012|Meteorologist Brent Watts

Sunday, Nov. 4, is the end of Daylight Saving Time for 2012 and the time most in the U.S. get to turn their clocks back one hour.

The time change officially takes place at 2 a.m., which means you turn the clock back to 1 a.m. However, most find it easier to turn the clock back one hour before going to bed Saturday night, giving you an extra hour of sleep.

If that's not confusing enough, people worldwide have changed this man-made "holiday" into "Daylight Savings Time" when the actual term is "Daylight Saving Time."

It's also a great time to change the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Be sure to run a test of the alarm to ensure it's working properly.


One of the biggest reasons we change our clocks to Daylight Saving Time (DST) is that it reportedly saves electricity. Newer studies, however, are challenging long-held reason.

In general, energy use and the demand for electricity for lighting our homes is directly connected to when we go to bed and when we get up. Bedtime for most of us is late evening through the year. When we go to bed, we turn off the lights and TV.

In the average home, 25 percent of all the electricity we use is for lighting and small appliances, such as TVs, VCRs and stereos. A good percentage of energy consumed by lighting and appliances occurs in the evening when families are home. By moving the clock ahead one hour, we can cut the amount of electricity we consume each day.

Studies done in the 1970s by the U.S. Department of Transportation show that we trim the entire country's electricity usage by about one percent EACH DAY with Daylight Saving Time.

Daylight Saving Time "makes" the sun "set" one hour later and therefore reduces the period between sunset and bedtime by one hour. This means that less electricity would be used for lighting and appliances late in the day. We may use a bit more electricity in the morning because it is darker when we rise, but that is usually offset by the energy savings in the evening.

We also use less electricity because we are home fewer hours during the "longer" days of spring and summer. Most people plan outdoor activities in the extra daylight hours. When we are not at home, we don't turn on the appliances and lights. A poll done by the U.S. Department of Transportation indicated that Americans liked Daylight Saving Time because "there is more light in the evenings / can do more in the evenings."

While the amounts of electricity saved per household are small...added up they can be very large.

In the winter, the afternoon Daylight Saving Time advantage is offset by the morning's need for more lighting. In spring and fall, the advantage is less than one hour. So, Daylight Saving Time saves energy for lighting in all seasons of the year except for the four darkest months of the year (November, December, January and February) when the afternoon advantage is offset by the need for lighting because of late sunrise.

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