"An extra yawn one morning in the springtime, an extra snooze one night in the autumn is all that we ask in return for dazzling gifts. We borrow an hour one night in April; we pay it back with golden interest five months later." -Winston Churchill
Spring ahead...fall back.
Among his other brilliant achievements, from the same person who wrote "Fart Proudly," founding father Benjamin Franklin first conceived of daylight savings in 1784. (Bet they didn't teach you that historical tidbit in grade school, now did they!). It wasn't until WWI, however, that it was carved in stone.
I don't know about you, but even losing just that one-hour of sleep, and I get cranky. I usually get over my sleep-deprived crabbiness by the next day, and like most folks, I merely go back to finding other reasons to either be joyous or surly.
But the practical aspects of just one hour vanishing here and yet another hour materializing there have an enormous impact. What started as a lucky break for farmers who worked the land by enabling them to have a hearty, early breakfast and then be off to tend their fields in the newly granted hour of daylight instead of in the prior day's total darkness, is actually a benefit for all of us -- crankiness aside. And conversely, when the clocks get "sprung ahead," it also makes heaps of sense to not have children standing in the darkened night air waiting for their school bus to take them home.
But the other added benefit that really hadn't been considered at its inception is that plain and simple...Daylight Savings saves energy! Twenty-five percent of the electricity we use goes towards operating the modern conveniences and high tech equipment we own and the incandescent and fluorescent lighting we need to see what we're doing. So by the mere fact of twice-yearly adjusting the time up or down an hour, we actually minimize the tons of electricity we gobble up daily in our "cribs" and at our jobs.
The electricity needed when the sun goes down early or rises late, is directly related to our individual consumption. In a perfect world, when we're cutting zzz's or catching 40 winks...most of us would shut off all unused energy zappers. But not every individual or family has the same energy needs, or, for that matter, the same comfort level with limiting its usage. For instance, just because I usually wander off to bed at 10:00, my partner stays up "burning the midnight oil" till 1:00. And, much to the chagrin of many a houseguest, we happen to prefer a darker and "spookier" house, with very low, or shall we say, "ambient" lighting, while so many other folks prefer homes that are lit up like pin-ball machines once it gets dark out. And although the personal bits of electricity and other energy we all end up using or not using in our own homes might seem miniscule, added up...it's collectively gi-nourmous. So an added benefit of Daylight Savings is a net result of conserved energy.
With Daylight Savings, in general, in the spring and summer, with the sun staying up in the sky later and later, lights stay off longer because we hang out outside longer, and we tend to cook less, which keeps the heat in our homes down. On the flipside...in the fall and winter, we find our way out from our cozy slumber each morning because Daylight Savings gives us the strength and support of additional sunlight to shake us out of the sack. (freshly brewed coffee, your partner's elbow, and a dog eagerly waiting at the door to go out to pee kind of helps, too.)
So how can we make the best of these semi-annual, nationwide time warps? Since Daylight Savings began because natural winter light is a rare commodity as the days grow shorter, before it gets too cold, clean your windows and let all that yummy amber fall light fill your home. Wipe away all the summer grime with a simple solution of one teaspoon of white vinegar added to a re-cycled spray bottle filled with warm water. Starting at the top of the window, just spritz the vinegary solution on and wipe it down with re-cycled newspaper.You'll be amazed at how squeaky-clean your windows will be. And this entire new bottle of glass cleaner only cost you about $.02. (Remember, the price of store-bought commercial cleansers takes into account the costs of advertising, packaging, shipping, supermarket real estate, etc. -- while a simple bottle of generic white vinegar costs under $1.00 and can last well over a year.)
And to maximize all that free warming energy from the winter light now able to penetrate your sparkling clean windows, keep your shades and blinds open during the day to allow Mother Nature to help heat your home. Conversely, during the balmy months of spring and summer, keep your shades and blinds closed while the sun is out -- just little actions like these, that cost us nothing, can help keep non-renewable energy costs down.
Oh yes, and those two times a year when you change your clocks, change your smoke detector batteries, too...couldn't hurt, and it's the only way I ever remember to do it. And while you're already precariously standing on the top rung of your kitchen step-ladder (no, really -- please don't ever stand on the top step!) with your arms way over your head, you might want to also consider swapping out those power-guzzling incandescent light bulbs in those overhead light fixtures, too. Yah...I know that you've been meaning to swap those 1970s decorator eyesore fixtures for something from this century, but lets take baby steps and start by just installing energy efficient fluorescent bulbs, OK?
I hope you're enjoying the change of the seasons...and let that sun shine in!
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.