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Why Do We Observe Daylight Savings Time?

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Westchester’s favorite meteorologist, Joe Rao, gives us a simple explanation for why we all go along with losing an hour of sleep.

Q: What’s the point of Daylight Saving Time, and why was it recently pushed back from October to November?

A: Daylight Saving Time was first proposed by New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson in 1895, says News 12 Westchester meteorologist Joe Rao.

“His shift-work job gave him leisure time to collect insects and made him aware of the value of after-hours daylight,” Rao explains. “Hudson’s proposal argued that DST increases opportunities for outdoor leisure activities during increased afternoon sunlight hours.”

While most of the world adopted DST for those reasons, it soon took on an additional role—to save energy. “DST’s potential to save energy comes primarily from its effects on residential lighting, which consumes about three-and-a-half percent of electricity in the U.S.

“The Bush administration extended DST by three weeks as a way to help reduce energy consumption,” he continues. “Whether it is working, however, is still a very contentious issue. Some would prefer year-round DST. That might make the evenings a little brighter in the winter—in Westchester, sunset in December would come at 5:25 pm instead of 4:25 pm—but it would also mean dark mornings en route to work and school, as sunrise in early January would come after 8:30 am.”