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Daylight Saving Time (DST): what, when and why?


The clocks go back for Daylight Savings Time (DST) winter 2015 on October 25 at 2:00 am, meaning the UK reverts to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). What does this mean for your business energy?

Daylight saving UK

The idea of DST is to save energy, as well as reduce accidents and crime. DST was first officially introduced to the UK in 1916, when it was hoped it would reduce coal consumption. German was actually the first adopter in an attempt to boost its war effort.

What is daylight saving?

The concept of daylight saving is very straightforward – moving clocks forward or back according to the season to give the maximum amount of usable sunlight.

In fact, this is not a new idea: ancient civilizations adjusted their time systems to adapt to the changing day length. The Romans, for example, divided the day into 12 hours, making the hours longer in summer and shorter in winter. This system persists in some traditional ceremonies, such as those of Judaism.

Many wrongly credit the conception of DST to William Willett, a wealthy a British builder. In fact, the idea was first proposed by New Zealander George Hudson in an 1895 paper suggesting a two-hour daylight-saving shift.

Willett apparently independently came up with idea of DST in 1905 on an early morning horseride, when he noted many people sleeping through the early morning.

Following German and UK adoption, many other European countries, the US and Russia followed suit.

Business energy and DST

Several polls have suggested that more people in the UK are in favour of dropping DST than keeping it. Scotland, however, has expressed concern at such proposals.

Controversy around DST is nothing new: it was abandoned after the First World War by many (although not Canada, France, Ireland, the UK and a few others). The Second World War and then the energy crisis of the 1970s saw other countries return to DST.

Among the reasons used to argue against DST, critics claim darker mornings are dangerous for children walking to school. Rebecca Harris, a Conservative MP, in 2011 brought a Bill to end the season clock change but it was dropped.

DST also has its champions (including Winston Churchill). Some have pushed trials of double summer time (GMT + 2 hours), for instance during the Second World War. The current system has been in place since 1972.

For UK SMEs, the effects should be positive, if modest. More daylight during working hours should mean less need for lighting, meaning cheaper business electricity bills. If you manage your premises correctly, there could also be a reduction in business gas bills.

But the savings related to DST are unlikely to be outweighed by careful management of your office environment.

Any savings are amplified if you switch business energy supplier. For the many SME owners that lack the time to compare business energy suppliers, SwitchMyBusiness.com can offer a comprehensive comparison and switch you to a new supplier in just 20 minutes, taking care of all the paperwork. Give us a call on 0330 0100 251 (or request a call back using our form).

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