The idea of Daylight Saving Time started with Benjamin Franklin, but in his mind it wasn’t a serious proposal.
In a letter written in 1784 to the Journal de Paris, Franklin poked fun at the partying lifestyle of Parisians and proposed firing cannons at sunrise to wake them up.
But, more seriously, he did note that sleeping instead of burning candles all night long would save Parisians 64 million pounds of candle wax over six months.
On the assumption that 100,000 Parisian families burned half a pound of candles per hour for an average of seven hours per day (the average time for the summer months between dusk and the supposed bedtime of Parisians), the account would stand thus:
“183 nights between 20 March and 20 September times 7 hours per night of candle usage equals 1,281 hours for a half year of candle usage. Multiplying by 100,000 families gives 128,100,000 hours by candlelight. Each candle requires half a pound of tallow and wax, thus a total of 64,050,000 pounds.
“At a price of thirty sols per pounds of tallow and wax (two hundred sols make one livre tournois), the total sum comes to 96,075,000 livre tournois.
“An immense sum,” the astonished Franklin concluded, “that the city of Paris might save every year.”
He could have added that this would have been especially good for animals, since most candle wax came from animal fat, and the oil in oil lamps from whales who were then being hunted by the thousands every year all across the Atlantic.