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daylight saving time, 2010

“Spring forward, Fall back” reminds us to turn the clocks backwards one hour this Sunday at 2:00 a.m. as daylight saving time ends and we return to standard time.

Daylight Saving Time, DST, began when Germany, Britain, and other European countries adopted the schedule in 1916 as a way to conserve energy—ie. coal which was rationed during WWI. Russia began the following year, the US in 1918, and since then many countries adopted the practice, changed the start/end dates, or dropped it entirely.

While most of North America shifts at 2:00 a.m. local time—meaning each time zone shifts one hour after the other—the EU shifts all at once. In some countrys or states only part of each participates. For example, while California and New Mexico shift, only part of Arizona does, and near the equator—where daylight doesn’t vary much—there’s no need to switch.

There are pros and cons to debate if the practice is still necessary or desirable, but as an energy saving practice it no longer seems significant considering how energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs—and energy in general—are so readily available.

On the positive side, the shift serves as a reminder to check a seasonal to do list: replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, replace furnace filters and reprogram thermostats, get the latest flu vaccine and get rid of hazardous materials like old paint cans via scheduled community collections, double-check lighting cords and turn on the CFLs!

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