Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
A new day yawns Blame daylight saving time
nLancaster County residents -- from those in the ag industry to those providing power -- discuss the impact of DST. But most residents already know one thing: They're a bit more sleepy than usual. BY TOM KNAPP, Staff Writer
All arguments for the wisdom of daylight saving time seem to vanish these first few mornings when your alarm clock goes off an hour sooner than your body says it should.
But, since 1967, Americans in most states -- Arizona, Hawaii and some territories are exceptions -- have dutifully set their clocks one hour ahead in the spring and an hour back come the fall.
While that leads to an extra hour of blissful sleep in November -- or, for some, an extra hour out on Saturday night -- it inevitably means a lost hour of snooze time this month, when good intentions to go to bed an hour early inevitably fly out the window.
For most in the ag community, however, daylight saving time doesn't really mean a hill of beans.
"In the production units, they still have their lights on for their cows and chickens," says Leon Ressler, district director for the Penn State Extension. "And the chickens are in buildings, so it doesn't really affect them at all."
Where it does get interesting, he says, is in the Amish community.
The Amish here don't adjust their clocks for DST, Ressler says, so it can cause scheduling issues for pickups and deliveries along rural routes.
"So, for them, the milk truck is suddenly coming at a different time," he explains. "Say it has been coming at 7 a.m.
"For the Amish community, now the milk truck is coming at 6. So he has to adjust his time for milking by an hour."
Amish observance of DST varies among communities around the country, according to Amish News and other online resources. The Lancaster County community appears by and large to ignore the switch to what they call "fast time" or "English time."
Ben Kreider, who oversees truck routes for the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative in Leola, laughs when asked about DST adjustments to his drivers' schedules, but says it's not a huge concern.
"There's maybe one or two farmers who forget about it, and they're not ready for us when the truck gets there," Kreider says. "I don't have to adjust my routes at all," he says. "We go out at the same times we normally would. I guess (the Amish farmers) still wake up at the same time relative to sunrise, so it doesn't really cause any issues. Once or twice in the month or so afterward, someone might get mixed up and be ready at the wrong time."
Ressler says an hour on the clock -- one way or the other -- doesn't mean much to dairy farmers because "dairy barns operate around the clock anyway. So it doesn't have a lot of impact.
"They still keep the lights on the same number of hours in the barn," he adds. "It might reduce a household's use of light a little bit in the evenings. But I don't think that's a big factor on a farm."
Although Ben Franklin first suggested the idea of daylight saving time in 1784 while serving as the American delegate to Paris, he didn't live to see it happen. His idea wasn't put into widespread use until World War I.
It was first enacted by the Germans in 1916 to conserve fuel for the war effort. Other nations followed suit, including the United States in 1918. The U.S. abolished the measure the following year.
It was briefly resurrected from 1942 to 1945 -- Franklin Roosevelt called it "war time" -- then for two decades its use was determined on a state-by-state, or in some cases city-by-city, basis.
By 1962, the nation's transportation industry was pushing for a federal standard, claiming differences in time from place to place was confusing. Business leaders also pushed for conformity.
Congress stepped in to end the chaos with the Uniform Time Act in 1966. The particulars of the law have been revised from time to time, most recently when the period for daylight savings was extended for several weeks in 2007.
Studies done by the Department of Transportation show that daylight saving time pares down the country's daily electricity usage by about 1 percent -- a small but significant amount.
Not so fast, says PPL spokesman John Levitski.
"There is no discernible difference in electric use with daylight saving time," he says.