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Summer time: prepare to spring forward!

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Summer time: prepare to spring forward!

This Sunday, March 29 we will advance our watches by one hour when we switch to summer time, also referred to as Daylight Saving Time or DST. If a standard can be defined as an agreement (about a product, service or process) DST is also an agreement used by all of society. In this case: temporarily putting the clock forward one hour at a specific time and date. In all countries of the European Union, the switch takes place on the last Sunday in March at 2 am. On the last Sunday in October we turn our watches back one hour, as we return to winter time.

Origins

During the First World War, Germany was the first country to introduce summer time , from 30 April 1916 to 1 October 1916. The idea was to save as much coal reserves as possible. The 1973 oil crisis, which led to a series of energy saving measures, prompted many countries to adopt summer time.

Pros and cons

Supporters and opponents of summer time each come up with a number of arguments to support their case:

Advantages of DST:

  • Energy saving (reduced use of artificial light in the evening). Light savings are nonetheless claimed to be largely offset by higher cooling costs in homes. The time of coming home being closer to the hottest time of the day, the air conditioning has to run longer to cool the house on the hottest days.
  • Less road accidents because there is more daylight during peak hours
  • Longer summer evenings

Disadvantages of DST:

  • Summer time has a significant and sustained effect on our biological clock. Children, the elderly and evening persons in particular may feel very tired in the week following the transition to summer time
  • In agriculture and livestock farming the switch between summer and winter time is a disadvantage because plants and animals have their own biological rhythm. For example: cows do not get up earlier when we switch to summer time. The milking hours can therefore not be  delayed by an hour in one go. Plants adapt to solar time, not summer time. Farmers must take this into account and adapt their working times.

Set your clock forward or back? A little trick.

To remember which way to set your watch, keep in mind “spring forward, fall back”. You set your clock forward in the spring when DST starts (= lose one hour), and back one hour when DST ends in the fall (= regain one hour).

So don’t forget to set your clock forward this weekend; otherwise you will turn up late for your appointments on Sunday!