Daylight Saving Time to Get an Unusually Brief Winter Break

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By Daniela Deane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 27, 2006; 2:32 PM

It's official: Winter is on its way and so our days will start, and end, earlier. Soon, it'll no longer be dark at 7 in the morning when you're sipping your coffee or light at 5 when you're driving home from work.

Clocks get set back one hour on Sunday, Oct. 29, at 2 a.m., ending summer's Daylight Saving Time.

But this year, the wait to get it back won't be as long and so the lazy, light-filled evenings of summer will be with us sooner.

Clocks will revert back to Daylight Saving Time three weeks earlier than usual next year -- on the second Sunday in March rather than the first Sunday in April for the first time since 1966.

When clocks move forward, it effectively moves an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening. When clocks move back, as they will this weekend, the daylight moves in reverse, from evening to morning.

The main purpose of Daylight Saving Time, first conceived of by American inventor Benjamin Franklin, is to make better use of daylight.

It has been used in the United States and in many European countries since World War I, starting out as an effort to conserve fuel to produce electric power during the war, according to a Web site devoted to Daylight Saving Time . Germany and Austria were the first countries to begin using Daylight Saving Time on April 30, 1916.

The plan was first formally adopted in the United States in 1918. But after the war ended, the law proved so unpopular -- mostly because people rose earlier and went to bed earlier than today -- that it was repealed in 1919.

In the early 1960s, observance of Daylight Saving Time was inconsistent, with a hodgepodge of time observances across the country. State and local governments picked and chose whether they wanted to adhere, depending on local conditions and businesses.

In 1966, Congress stepped in to end the confusion, establishing one pattern across the country. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act into law that year, decreeing that DST should begin on the last Sunday of April and end on the last Sunday of October. That was changed in 1986 to the first Sunday in April and the last Sunday of October.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended Daylight Saving Time beginning next year, although Congress has retained the right to revert to the 1986 law should the change prove unpopular or if energy savings are not significant.

Going from 2007 forward, Daylight Saving Time in the United States will begin at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday of March and end at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of November.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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