You’re probably thinking, why do we voluntarily give up an hour of sleep? And that’s a good question, considering that many Americans get six hours of sleep per night or less, which is below the seven hours or more the CDC recommends.
The simple answer is that daylight saving time is supposed to help with conserving energy. By changing the clocks in the spring, you move an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening. So farmers, for example, would have more time to harvest crops.
Then in the fall, you change the clocks back so that it gets darker sooner. In theory, people would go to bed earlier so they wouldn’t need to burn lights (or in the case of the Parisians that Benjamin Franklin was addressing in his essay, candles and lamp oil).
But Ben Franklin didn’t count on one thing: The advent of modern lighting and heating systems. Which is ironic, since he’s considered to be one of the founding fathers of electricity. So, does daylight saving time actually save energy?
According to the Department of Energy, not as much as you might expect. A study of daylight saving time found that it saves about 0.5% in total electricity per day. That’s about 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours but that energy savings didn’t necessarily translate to any huge financial savings in the average household’s utility bills.