DST begins... when?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Are you ready to spring forward with your clocks and say hello to daylight-saving time? It's almost time -- in fact, it happens this year on March 11.

On Aug. 8, 2005, President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act which includes changing the dates for daylight-saving time. I'm not sure what I was doing in 2005 but this piece of information did not register with me. This idea was the brain-child of Rep. Fred Upton, a Republican from Michigan and Rep. Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts. They added this amendment to the 1,700 page energy measure that covers everything from nuclear power facilities to energy-efficient buildings. Maybe that is where this year's tax credit for installing energy-saving products to our homes comes from.

So, beginning this year, DST will begin at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March -- March 11 -- instead of the first Sunday in April. Standard time also changes and will begin at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November -- Nov. 4 -- instead of the last Sunday of October.

Confused yet? Well, at least this latest version of DST is "staying the course" and remaining true to its changeable history. Benjamin Franklin first conceived DST, and it was briefly approved by Congress during World War I. In 1966, Congress set DST to begin in April and end in October but extended the period briefly during the mid-1970s energy crisis (remember that?). In 1986, Congress set DST to start at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in April and end on the last Sunday in October. That's the time-schedule we all -- well, almost all -- have followed for 20 years. Indiana fought against DST for years but finally gave up and joined the rest of us confused clock setters. Beautiful Hawaii still doesn't observe DST, nor does most of Arizona.

The government has a reason for forcing us to observe DST. They believe that most people will use less electricity for lighting if they have extra daylight in the evening. This new extension could save the equivalent of 100,000 barrels of oil per day -- or at least that's what the House Energy and Commerce committee claims.

And, of course, if the government is in on it, a study must be done. So, the Department of Energy will evaluate the effects on energy use during this time to see if it does actually make a difference. Congress has reserved the right to revert back to the old schedule if the DST changes of 2007 don't save, save, save.

The biggest problem with this change may be our dependency on technical systems. Didn't we all say "cool" the first time our computer automatically knew when DST (the old schedule) began? Now, we have to figure out how to change our computer's memory banks to the new dates. Since I can't remember how to reset my clock in my car, the idea of monkeying with my computer doesn't thrill me.

Those of us who are computer illiterate can go to Microsoft's Web site and read through long lists to see if their computer needs a bandage or major surgery. Some up-to-date computers and cell phones might receive instruction from their service providers' network or the Internet to change to the new time. But older software products like Windows XP and earlier and later, will require manual updates. These updates are suppose to be on the Microsoft Web site, but when I searched for my "patch" I wasn't sure which one I needed.

I guess I might as well accept what I cannot change. But, I'm still going to grumble. Not only am I going to have to learn how to re-train my computer, I'm going to have to get up an hour earlier -- two weeks earlier then I have for 20-years. I wish the government would quit messing with my beauty sleep and just keep the same time schedule (DST or standard) all year long.

People who make the worst use of their time are the same ones who complain that there is never enough time.

-- Anonymous