What Should I Do for Daylight Saving Time Besides Adjust My Clocks?

There are a couple of tasks to tackle when the time changes, and one that frequently gets skipped is the ceiling fan. Daniel M. Nagy/Shutterstock

Ahh, the second Sunday in March or the first Sunday of November, the days when most time-keeping Americans awake in a state of clock-oriented confusion (oh my God, I’m going to be late for brunch ... or will I be early?) and existential whiplash (but what time is it really?). While you’re lurching around the house confused after losing or gaining an hour of beauty rest, you might as well do a few other things — some quite important:

Counterculture: A somewhat overlooked method of trimming a few bucks off of your wintertime energy bills (energy savings is the whole somewhat controversial point behind daylight saving time to begin with) is to set ceilings fans around the house to spin in the reverse direction, clockwise, at the onset of standard or “winter time” in November. According to the wise fanatics at Hunter Fan, a fan operating in a clockwise direction circulates warm air up toward the ceiling and down the walls of a room, allowing for a steadier temperature that can result in a 10 percent energy savings provided you also turn down the thermostat a few degrees. During the warmer months, a fan’s blades should be spinning in a counterclockwise direction so that cool air is pushed downward and distributed throughout a room. That said, at the onset of DST, take a quick moment to note the direction your ceiling fan blades are spinning at and readjust if you switched them to run in reverse back in November.

Sound the alarm: Now that you’ve dragged out the footstool or ladder to fiddle with your ceiling fans, it’s also a smart idea to change the batteries of your household smoke alarms. Now's the time if you didn’t perform this crucial task at the end of daylight saving time, which is more or less the “official” time to do so, according to the folks at Energizer. And even if you did install a fresh battery the last time the time changed, it’s still wise to go ahead and give the alarm a routine test at the start of DST. The same goes for carbon monoxide detectors and other safety-minded, battery-operated devices around the house. And while you’re at it, use daylight saving time as an excuse to drop by your granny’s house or the home of any elderly neighbor to make sure that their smoke and carbon monoxide testers are up to snuff.

Pills in bottles in a medicine cabinet
Daylight saving time is a good opportunity to check your medicine cabinet for expired or unneeded drugs. bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock

Clean out the cabinet: With many a circadian rhythm thrown off by the time shift, some of us may venture into the medicine cabinet in search of some pharmaceutical assistance to help deal with those out-of-whack internal clocks (in addition to some of us feeling a bit confused, headache-y, anxious and sleep-deprived, two separate studies suggest that suicide rates among men spike in the days following DST as do instances of serious heart attacks). If you just happen to be rooting around the medicine chest in search of DST relief, take a moment to clear it out of any expired or unneeded prescription drugs, over-the-counter remedies and supplements along with any dried-up/unused/unneeded cosmetics or personal care products. Learn more about ways to dispose of old medication in a manner that won’t harm the environment or result in strangers searching through your trash bin at 3 a.m. looking to score some “leftovers.” Along with cleaning out the medicine cabinet, DST is also a good time to make sure any household first aid or emergency kits are current and complete.

Filter changing and mattress flipping: Although you can hold off on inspecting and/or changing any household filters until you embark on a comprehensive spring (or fall!) cleaning session, DST is as good a time as ever to pay mind to furnace filters, refrigerator water filters, water pitcher filters, stovetop exhaust fan filters, air purifier filters, AC filters, vacuum filters, humidifier filters, aquarium filters and the list goes on and on. And although you may need to recruit a beefy buddy to help you with this one, DST (and the end of DST) provides a primo opportunity to flip and spin your mattress (pillow-top mattress need not apply) in order to extend its life. And while you’re at it, it’s a fine idea to inspect and wash your sheets, comforter, quilts, mattress pad and other bedding. Once your mattress is flipped and your bed remade, there’s only one thing left to do: Participate in one of my favorite holidays, National Napping Day.