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Daylight Saving Time 2016: When does the time change in the fall?

In three weeks we fall back, turning clocks back an hour to standard time when another Daylight Saving Time comes to an end.

The time changes this year on November 6, 2016 at 2 a.m. In these parts that means sunset will be shortly after 5 p.m. when the change occurs, and even earlier through late December when the shortest day of the year arrives.

Those who like the extra hour of sunlight provided by Daylight Saving Time will not welcome the change.  An extra hour of light in the evening allows for more outside activity and a window to get some vitamin D from sunshine at the end of a workday indoors.

After Congress added an extra month to Daylight Saving Time in 2007 – starting it three weeks earlier in the spring (the second Sunday in March) and ending it one week later in the fall (the first Sunday in November) – we now spend almost 70 percent of our days each year with an extra hour of light at the end of the day.

Originally, when Daylight Saving Time was established in the United States by a federal standard in 1967, it lasted for six months. The premise sold to legislators: energy conservation.

An extra hour of sunlight for half the year meant less time with the lights on inside. The gasoline and retail lobbying efforts had more to do with it than anything, however, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was the strongest force behind the movement.

Studies have shown that people actually don’t save energy and they may use more when gasoline is factored into the equation. They drive to restaurants, they drive shopping, and they drive to sports practices. More people play golf. More shop for groceries.

So retailers, including convenience stores that sell gasoline, successfully lobbied to Congress again in 1986, and Daylight Saving Time was extended for another month, and again in 2007, when it was extended for another month.

Energy conservation, as before, was cited as the reason for the Daylight Saving Time extension to eight months of the American year. But it is worth noting that the candy makers were part of a powerful lobby pushing to extend Daylight Saving Time into November. That extra hour of sunlight on October 31 apparently fuels more candy sales.

Not everybody likes Daylight Saving Time. School children, with the clock shifted forward for one hour, have to wait on buses more hours in the dark. And others interested in energy conservation, ironically, don’t like the extra gasoline burn that Daylight Saving Time fuels.

Another concern is that since the 2007 expansion of Daylight Saving Time we now have just four months of standard time in the year, and four months seems like more like a variance than a standard.

Regardless, nothing is changing any time soon with Daylight Saving Time and this year, like it has been since 2007, we have three more weeks of an extra hour of sunlight in the evening before it is time to fall back.

May as well make good use of it.

David Magee is Publisher of The Oxford Eagle. You can contact him at david.magee@oxfordeagle.com.