While most of you started Daylight Savings (DST) this weekend, in fact Hawaii did not join you. Hawaii has never observed daylight saving time under the Uniform Time Act, having opted out of the Act’s provisions over fifty years ago. Now it looks like the rest of the world may soon join Hawaii in eliminating this practice.
Until next fall, take note that Hawaii will be 3 hours earlier than the west coast, instead of 2 hours.
Question: Why has Hawaii never adopted Daylight Savings Time?
Answer: Hawaii sunrise and Hawaii sunset times do not vary much.
Being much further south than any of the mainland states, and actually at a latitude close to that of Mexico City, there’s no significant advantage to having daylight savings in Hawaii. The concept of daylight savings was, in theory, that it adjusts the time to make use of available natural light. With Hawaii reasonably close to the equator, sunrise and sunset time don’t vary nearly as much as is the case further to the north. Read on as to whether this theory holds water.
The other US locations that do not have daylight savings are:
- Arizona (most of the state)
- American Samoa
- Northern Mariana Islands
- Puerto Rico
- United States Virgin Islands
The above locations are, with the exception of Arizona, in a similar situation to Hawaii in terms of latitude. Arizona unsuccessfully tried daylight savings in the 1960’s before opting out.
Why daylight savings?
Daylight savings started in the US in 1918, during World War I. While the stated reason was to benefit farmers and/or save fuel, it is now largely believed that it was a way of promoting retail shopping in light evenings. It was also considered beneficial to health since with longer days, people would spend more time with recreation and sports.
After World War I, only New York City continued to observe DST until 1942, when a national DST policy came into effect. In 1966 the uniform time act said that the US would observe six months of standard time and six months of daylight savings time each year.
States had to either opt in or opt out so that cities and counties could no longer decide on DST. Arizona opted out. Since then the US has moved to longer observance of DST, which since 2005 has been 8 months each year.
Europe has a similar policy and typically changes between “summer time” and standard time about the same time that the US changes. Europe will go from standard time to summer time the last weekend of March this year.
There is much doubt about whether daylight savings is useful or not, and in fact it may not continue much longer. Europe could lead in that effort and we’ve heard that it may end within the next year. Furthermore, recent studies suggest that daylight savings can throw off sleep schedules and more. That may affect our well being, judgment and productivity.