Daylight Saving Time (DST): yes or no? That is the question
Posted on 25 October 2018
During the night between Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th we’ll turn our clocks 1 hour back, to the natural winter time.
In most western countries we’re quite used to set our clocks twice a year, but not everyone knows the history and the reason behind the Daylight Saving Time.
Besides, whereas some of us quite love the DST, others claim loudly the desire to abolish it once and for all.
But why do we have to set our clocks twice a year, every year?
A brief recap of the time change
A raw, similar idea came first from sir Benjamin Franklin, who in 1784 had the intuition that a change in the sleep schedules of people would have led to save candles' consumption. In his essay he suggested to wake up earlier in order to profit by the sunlight.
But actually, the real idea of a time change might be attributed to the New Zealander entomologist George Hudson in 1895, and afterwords to William Willett in 1907.
The first attempt of Daylight Saving Time introduction took place in 1916 in England, with some corrections until 1925, when the scheme became more similar to the actual one.
The time change was welcomed by a bunch of oppositions and confusions: famous is the case of the Edinburgh’s Castle gun which fired one hour ahead of schedule causing confusion all around the city.
But what’s the reason behind all the criticism of the Summer Time?
What do we know about the Daylight Saving Time
According to some studies, the Daylight Saving Time causes a reduction in energy consumption which goes from 0,5% to 3%. A minor impact, though still relevant.
But the effect varies largely depending on the country, expecially because of the latitude. Countries near to the Equator don’t need the Summer Time because there the length of the day is steady: daytime and night time are basically equal throughout the whole year.
The opposite happens in the countries far from the Equator, as the North of Europe, or Canada: day is much longer than the night in the summertime (up to 20 hours and more of sunlight per day), whereas night is way longer than the day in the wintertime (in the extreme north, few hours of light per day in the middle of winter).
These are the countries where the DST is more adversed: an hour more of light in the summer is felt unnecessary and even annoying.
The countries which take more advantage of the time change are indeed those in the temperate area, such as Southern Europe, where an hour more of sunlight in the evening is seen as a precious gift.
That’s why in Italy the end of the Summer Time usually puts us in a well of deep desperation, and Guns ‘N Roses’ November Rain becomes the soundtrack of our moody autumn afternoons...
Then again, Daylight Saving Time yes or no?
Here a brief list of pros and cons.
- Some studies say in US it helps save around 1% of energy consumption;
- Some studies calculated savings from 3 to 5% in New Zealand;
- On average, 25% of home energy worldwide comes from lights and appliances such TV: an hour less of consumption saves energy;
- Longer evenings are an incentive not to stay home and therefore to spend more time in outdoor activities, which is healthy and less energy consuming;
- More sunlight is usually associated with more happiness among the population;
- Despite the darker mornings, evening’s savings are commonly bigger than the losses;
- According to some studies, the Daylight Saving Time reduces the car accidents in the evenings by 1%: which might be a low percentage, but still relevant;
- Countries in the temperate area largely benefit from the DST.
- Some studies noticed that the energy saving during the Summer Time is relevantly reduced by the air conditioning, expecially in certain countries;
- According to the data, the first week after the end of DST is usually associated by an increase of car accidents involving pedestrians;
- A lot of people find annoying and uncomfortable to have to set the time twice a year and they complain about issues in their circadian cycle;
- The DST impact on health is not perfectly clear. Whereas several studies found it irrelevant, others found little evidences about possible issues related to the time change;
- For some countries, the DST is quite unnecessary.
European Union on DST: ready to abolish?
This summer a survey was held across the European Union to decide whether to abolish or not the Daylight Saving Time.
The results saw an impressive 84% of the respondents asking for the abolishment. Actually, studying the numbers, among 4,6 millions of the survey’s participants, over 3 millions were Germans; only the 0,04% of the italian population participated and most likely the results would have been different with different numbers.
(Well, italians… we have splendid food, we have the best design, we have the sea… I mean, who cares about surveys during the summertime?!)
For this reason, the European Commission annunced the intention to abolish the Daylight Saving Time, maybe already before the end of 2019.
“The people want it, so we are going to do it” said Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the Commission.
But good news – expecially for us italians, who were already going to toss our autumnal spleen into a Lana del Rey playlist – because each country will have the chance to decide which time to hold.
Therefore, while the Northern Europeans will go for the Greenwich Winter Time, Southern ones will most likely to use the DST all the year long.
Unfortunately it's over for 2018, and we need to set our time once again.
Get ready to set your EORA CLOCK! Maybe for the last time.