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Daylight saving time and its purpose

What does it really mean to change the clocks twice a year? This debate has moved from the streets to the European Commission, which, after consultation with the people, has proposed the abolition of this measure.

Putting the clocks forward and back has always been linked to energy saving, which was why it was introduced. However, there are no reliable studies that show that doing this leads to less energy expenditure.


In 2021, we will scrap changing the time

The European Commission issued an open survey to citizens in which 84% of the participants advocated keeping to the same time throughout the year. Or what amounts to the same thing: stop putting the clocks forward on the last Sunday in March and putting them back on the last Sunday in October.

In view of this result, Brussels has suggested that time is fixed for the 28 states of the European Union.

But what should that time be? Although no decision has yet been made, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, has pointed out that the European countries would adopt the summer time arrangement, and abolish putting the clocks back in October.

Most states agree with this proposal, except Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark, and the Czech Republic, which prefer to keep to the winter time arrangement (i.e. abolish putting the clocks forward in March). Portugal, on the other hand, wants to continue with the twice-yearly time change.

Whatever the final decision, everything seems to indicate that it will not be implemented until 2021 as soon.

“There are no reliable studies that show that changing the time twice a year saves energy.”

Advantages of fixed summer time and its impact on savings

There is no saying whether fixed summer time or fixed winter time is better or worse. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

In the European Commission survey, most wanted to keep summer time all year round. Leaving work in the middle of winter and enjoying an hour or soof sunlight would be the main point in favour of this kind of change.

Moreover, with the summer time arrangement there are fewer traffic accidents, as the return home, when we are tired, is done in sunlight.

Spain would not only benefit from maintaining a single time arrangement throughout the year, but ought to also adopt the relevant geographical time zone, namely, that of the Greenwich meridian. This would put us on the same time as London and the Canary Islands… and the stock phrase "one hour behind in the Canary Islands" would disappear forever from news broadcasts.


Disadvantages of fixed summer time

However, in the particular case of Spain, some autonomous communities would be affected if the summer time arrangement were fixed. For example in Galicia it would not get light until 9:30 am. This would be difficult for the human body to deal with, as it is used to doing daily activities in the hours of sunlight.

It should be noted that if it gets dark later our rest time would also be affected. More hours of sunshine can be enjoyed, but the time when we go off to sleep would be delayed. Moreover, the time when we wake up to go to school or work would be the same, so we would be more tired and performance and productivity could decline.

“The different European countries are not in agreement on what time to adopt.”

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