A new day, a new thing

My goal to learn something new every day

Day 67: Daylight saving time

Image courtesy of Davmi Pics on Flickr

Image courtesy of Davmi Pics on Flickr

Twice a year the clocks change in various countries around the world. This is known as daylight saving time (DST) and is done so that there is more sunlight in the evenings during summer months. While not observed in all countries around the world, there are many countries that do change the clocks. I’d always thought (or perhaps never given it much thought might be more accurate) that DST was the same in all countries, i.e. it always changed in the same day of the year for all countries. Not true. I found this out this morning when I turned on Twitter to see people state side talking about the change, which confused me at first because I knew that the clocks are due to change in the UK in three weeks.

In the UK, the clocks are changed an hour forward on the final Sunday in March and are changed back on the final Sunday in October. The period during the summer when the clocks are an hour forward is known as British summer time or BST. The clocks always change at 01:00 GMT. So that means in March, after 00:59 (GMT), the clocks change to 02:00 (BST). At the end of October, when the clock gets to 01:59 (BST), it goes back to 01:00 GMT. Throughout the European Union, the clocks always change at the same time. For example, when the clocks change in the UK, they also change in France.

In the US, however, DST lasts longer. The clocks go forward on the second Sunday in March and go back on the first Sunday in November. This is about 4 weeks more than the summer time in Europe. However, it wasn’t always that way in America. From 1986 to 2006, the clocks used to change on the first Sunday in April (a week after Europe) and go back on the final Sunday in October (the same as in Europe). But in 2005, a new law was passed: The Energy Policy Act 2005. The purpose of the act was to tackle energy problems in the US. A report conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy found that as a result of the change, which took place in 2007 for the first time, there were nationwide electricity savings of 0.03%.

The idea for DST had been proposed by a number of different people before Germany and Austria-Hungary became the first countries to implement the change in 1916. Actually, historians will tell you that the idea of changing the clocks has been around since ancient times, and many civilizations did adjust their clocks based on the Sun’s schedule, but DST, as we know it, was first used in 1916. Other European countries, such as the UK began to use DST a few weeks after Germany. The US waited a couple more years, and the first use of DST was in 1918.

So, in the same way that Mother’s Day does not fall on the same date in the UK and the US, neither does the day on which we have to change our clocks, as I found out today.

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This entry was posted on March 8, 2015 by in UK and tagged , , , .

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