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It’s Time to Change Your Clocks! Why the U.S. and Europe Observe Daylight Savings Differently

All will be right in the world again this Sunday.

Well, sort of.

The U.S. will be setting its clocks back one hour on Sunday, Nov. 5, realigning itself with Europeans, who changed their clocks last week.

There are plenty of countries and even some states—looking at you, Arizona and Hawaii—that choose not to tweak their clocks at all. But for the most part, the U.S. and much of Europe participate in Daylight Saving Time, though they do so at different times. That means for the past week, the financial hubs of London and New York City have been only four hours apart, rather than the standard five.

What’s to blame for this oddity?

It’s actually a rather recent phenomenon. Not too long ago, both sides of the Atlantic adjusted their clocks at the same time twice a year—in April and October. That changed in the U.S. in 2007 after President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act, which extended Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. Rather than starting on the first Sunday in April and ending on the last Sunday in October, the U.S. began observing Daylight Saving Time on the second Sunday of March, with it lasting until the first Sunday in November. Europe’s Daylight Saving Time schedule, meanwhile, stayed put.

The bill, first enacted a decade ago, was intended to ease the country’s energy problems. The U.S. has adhered to the new system ever since, even though plenty of people complain that the need to change the clocks is obsolete entirely.

Abolishing Daylight Saving Time would align the U.S. with more than 100 other countries. They don’t fiddle with their clocks one bit.