Why Costa Rica doesn't have daylight saving time

Once upon a time, Costa Rica did spring forward and change its clocks with the seasons.

Being such a small country, Costa Rica doesn’t have multiple time zones. Nor does it observe daylight saving time, the practice of advancing the clock one hour.

But once upon a time, Costa Rica did “spring forward” and change its clocks with the seasons.

In 1954, 1973, 1979 and 1991, Costa Rica temporarily advanced its clocks by an hour, according to a contemporary report from La Nacion.1

Why did Costa Rica change its clocks in the first place? It was all about the energy savings. Because people keep their lights off when it’s light out, daylight saving can reduce energy consumption in the evenings.

Former President José María Figueres, a supporter of daylight saving, also suggested that matching Costa Rica’s time zone with that of the United States would be “in tune with all the realities of a world with a globalized economy.”

But ultimately, Costa Rica decided against the nuisance of changing clocks twice per year. A 1997 government commission concluded the following:

  • Daylight saving would prompt, at most, a 1.4% drop in energy consumption.

  • If clocks moved forward an hour, children walking or busing to school would do so in the dark.

  • Similarly, tens of thousands of farmers and construction workers would have to either start work in the dark, or wait until dawn, with the subsequent loss of productivity.

  • A time change could delay the start of work for many sectors, but this would cause imbalances in family and work life and greater crowds during peak hours.

As a result, Costa Rica hasn’t changed its clocks since the early 1990s. The country observes Central Standard Time year-round.

What do you think: Should Costa Rica re-consider daylight saving?

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1

Other sources list slightly different years.