What Everyone Gets Wrong About Daylight Saving Time

updated Mar 10, 2021
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(Image credit: Hannah Puechmarin)

Sunday, March 14 marks one of my favorite rites of spring: the start of Daylight Saving Time. Sure, we lose an hour, but since I am sans small children and an early bird by nature, the shifting of the clock to make it lighter, later is a welcome one. As a DST superfan, I feel obligated to correct some egregious mistakes I see people make for more than half of every year. Here they are, in no particular order:

It’s technically Daylight Saving Time, not Savings

According to the government, you don’t pluralize “saving,” though colloquially it is a widely accepted usage (see: the URL for this article, which has to be Daylight Savings Time because it is much more frequently searched, despite being incorrect). HQ players (remember HQ?) found this out the hard way a few years back, when a majority of people were eliminated from the mobile live trivia game for picking the pluralized version as the correct answer.

You’re probably writing time zones incorrectly

Starting Sunday, we will no longer be in EST, PST, et al (excluding Arizona, which does not recognize Daylight Saving). Those acronyms stand for Eastern Standard Time and Pacific Standard Time, and when the clocks spring forward, we will be immediately transported to Daylight Time. This means the correct times will be EDT and PDT, respectively, until November and the clocks fall back. Is this confusing? Congratulations! There’s an easy way to avoid the whole damn mess. Drop the second letter entirely and just write ET or PT. It’s still correct and you even save yourself a keystroke.

No, there isn’t “more” daylight

The second Sunday in March doesn’t magically mean the sun is up for a whole extra hour. We set the clocks back an hour so that daylight is shifted later in the day (and we’re not leaving work when it’s pitch black outside), but we don’t technically have more of it. With the tilt of the earth’s axis and its rotation around the sun, means that unless you live at the Equator, daylight hours are always gradually getting longer or shorter. The longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere is June 21, the summer solstice, and the shortest is the winter solstice on December 21. From the winter to the summer solstice, the days get gradually longer, while from summer to winter, they get gradually shorter. The change is subtle — a few minutes per day, depending on location, but the switch from Standard Time to Daylight Time makes it feel much more drastic.

Now you’re a DST expert! As they say: the more you know.