Factfinder: Daylight Saving Time

It happens twice a year, and for many of us adjusting our clocks is something we do out of habit. So how did all this springing forward and falling backwards get started?

"Originally in the 19th century, you could travel across the country and you never knew exactly what time zone you were in, said Lincoln University professor Dr. Thomas Gubbels.

A lot's changed since then says Gubbels. If you're adjusting your Big Ben, you can thank another Ben. Franklin, that is.

Gubbels says Franklin recommended the idea to the French a couple hundred years ago. But it didn't exactly take off. Congress experimented with daylight saving time a few times before agreeing on the system we have today, which is meant to save energy by taking advantage of natural sunlight.

The idea's that we'll use less energy by turning on less lights but it's controversial.

"Any savings or potential savings or even increase that could be caused by daylight saving time are probably hidden by the bigger affect that we have from just changes in the weather, said Ameren UE spokesperson Mike Cleary.

Whether or not there's an energy savings depends on who you ask. One study by UC-Santa Barbara studied energy use in Indiana and found daylight saving actually increased consumption by almost two percent.

With the sun shining longer into the summer evenings the study showed that people were arriving home at the hottest times of the day and flipping on the energy-hogging air conditioner, something not widely available in homes when congress passed the first law.

Back in Missouri, Ameren officials say they haven't seen any real impact from daylight saving time.

"Some of the savings at one point of the day are probably offset by higher use at another time, said Cleary.

There's no federal law that says states have to participate, although most do.

"Missouri, in theory, could end it's participation if the legislature chose to, said Gubbels. I would be shocked if it happened, but it's not a federal requirement."

Which means, like it or not, it's a tradition that appears to be standing the test of time.