/ Health, Home & Energy

Do you agree with turning the clocks back?

Alarm clock

Time to turn the clocks back again and mess around with our sleeping patterns. But is this current system the right way of dealing with dark days or is there a better – and safer – alternative?

Is it just me who gets completely confused whenever the clocks change?

Every spring and autumn I have to do some childlike counting on my fingers to work out whether we get an extra hour’s sleep or, worse, lose an hour.

Campaigning for different daylight hours

Then I heard about the campaigns to get lighter days. Brilliant, I hate going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark… better show my support.

First off I found the 10:10 Lighter Later campaign. According to them, their proposition is simple: ‘We shift the clocks forward by one hour throughout the entire year. We would still put the clocks forward in spring and back in autumn, but we would have moved an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening.’

Then there’s the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), calling for a system called ‘Single/Double Summer Time’ (SDST), which would put the clocks one hour ahead of GMT in winter and two hours ahead in summer.

Now I’m more confused than I was to start with. Is this just two different ways of explaining the same thing? Judging by the ‘Supporting 10:10 Lighter Later’ logo on RoSPA’s site, I guess so.

What are the benefits of SDST?

So what’s my little rant got to do with consumers? Well, stats out this week from Santander suggest a quarter of us feel more at risk of personal injury and burglary when the nights get darker. RoSPA reckons that a move to SDST could reduce road deaths by around 80%, as well as cutting carbon emissions by 450,000 tonnes each year.

The subject of the environment has also been picked up by Dr Elizabeth Garnsey, a Cambridge academic. She found that we’re wasting about six gigawatts of energy per day in winter because we wake up after it gets light in the morning and then light dark houses in the evening.

Her calculations are coming before a Private Member’s Bill to adjust Britain’s time to SDST. It’s due for a second reading in December and already has backing from sporting and environment organisations.

So could changing the current system really make our lives safer, more environmentally-friendly and our bills cheaper? The arguments have convinced me – anything that makes winter nights a bit lighter and safer is good in book. Still, I remain confused about how it all works, so anyone who can help me fathom out the difference between all these proposals, please speak up…

Comments
Member

I am in favour of bringing the clocks forward to have more daylight available in both winter and summer. I am aware that some industries claim that they will be affected, especially farming. However, no one insists that they perform their tasks at a set time, cows do need to be milked regularly, but this can and should be done at a time to suit the milker and the cows. As the milk will be collected and processed over a period of time there is NO reason for it to be done according to some clock based schedule. I am well aware that in the far north issues can be created, but the far north has most of those issues of reduced daylight BECAUSE it is in the far north. If they have a real issue then local adjustments are a reasonable and sensible answer.
Does a school child really need to go to school in place A at the same instant that a school child in place B? Or would it be better for both A and B to set their school start times according to local and real parental needs?
For the rest the reduction in hazards casualties and deaths along, increased time for activities and environmental savings are all benefits that were shown last time that this was tried.

Member

Leave it as it is. Perhaps we should have a referendum on it and on many other issues rather than the government impose these things on us??

Member

I’m with brat673, at least in terms of NOT having something imposed upon us without knowing what the majority of the population want.

As for the SDST and other alternatives to plain, simple, BST, I agree with many of the benefits cited and on a very personal level I like the idea of lighter evenings, but I very much dislike the idea of the mornings being even darker than they are under the current system. Take today as an example. The last day of BST for 2010 and dawn broke around 7:00 a.m. with light at a useful level by around 8:00 (admittedly it was cloudy). On a working day I am heading out for a bus by 06:40 and travel is exceedingly depressing and dangerous on darker mornings. Under the SDST proposal BST would (in effect) last all winter, meaning that by the shortest day (Dec 21st) people working similar hours to me would not only leave home in pitch dark (akin to the middle for the night) but also arrive at work in the pitch dark. I can’t see how that is safer, especially on icy mornings?

One thing that I do dislike about ANY change to the current system though: if a change is made we will have yet another deluge of perfectly serviceable appliances being thrown away and yet another artificial increase in sales of new items, because so many items these days have built in clocks and in an attempt to make them more user-friendly so many are now pre-programmed with the automatic adjustment to and from BST for anything up to the next 50 years (Roberts’ Radio Alarm clocks being one example and a great many Microwaves being another. Perhaps the most significant example for almost all households will be Central Heating and Boiler control units, many of which are built into modern boilers).

As for the argument that we lose / gain an hour’s sleep twice a year: get real! Any one who cannot cope with one hour less sleep, or adjust their going to bed time by one hour, once a year is rather pathetic in my opinion: we all have to deal with issues of gargantuan proportions in comparison to that every day of our lives both at home and at work: I think we need to bear that in mind when making emotive complaints about 60 minutes of shut-eye!

Of course, although well before my time, we did have a sort of double summer time in the war and everyone seemed to be OK with it then (including farmers and the far north of Scotland), so perhaps I and other ambivalent people should just accept that too?

On balance my own view is that we should stick to what we have now.

Member

As I have now been retired for many years, this question has little relevance for me personally, however I do recall the experiment which took place in the early nineteen seventies (I think) and was dropped after a little while.
While it might have been better for London and the home counties, here in north west England it was noticeable that roads, particularly in suburban and semi-rural areas, were iced up well into the morning rush hour. In the evenings, however, icing does not currently occur until past the rush hour and accidents due to icy roads are thus more likely to occur if the proposals are put into place.
It seems that it may be a question of benefit for the South-east versus disbenefit for the North and I think we all know how that will go!

Member

I’m with brat673, too – I don’t think the country revolves around the south. As already mentioned the experiment was tried in the 70’s and didn’t work then.

If a company wants to work in time with Europe – I don’t mind – Let them change or keep their clocks and live their lives to their clocks.

I like the traditional system – works well.

Member
pickle says:
31 October 2010

I think the whole idea of fiddling with the clocks is just crazy – there should be one time all the year. After all if you move the clocks one way the mornings are dark and if you go the other wat the evenings are dark. Either way you get a dark period for nearly half a day and someone will say it is dangerous for the kids to get to school etc. etc.and the farmers complain.
Surely we have to get used to the dark sometime and adjust our behavour accordingly.

Member

I’ve never lived in a time when we had just GMT (or just BST for that matter) all year round (I don’t think any one living can have can they?) but unless actually living by one time all year is tried and reveals some unexpected and significant problems then I agree completely with Pickle.

Keeping the status quo seems to me to be the best alternative that anyone has yet lived with and used though.

Member
TriniMe says:
4 February 2017

I totally agree with Pickle. Indeed there is a very simple solution that would suit everyone – although when I broached it to my MP he couldn’t understand the concept which is – change the time that you work not the clocks. So here’s how it will work. In March when the clocks “spring forward”, 08:00 becomes 09:00 – but in GMT terms it is still 08:00 – so why not just leave the clocks as they are and just start work, farming, school et cetera at 08:00 instead. This will also save quite a bit of money having to constantly adjust public clocks, and avoid what happened with the banking system a few years ago. I work within the housing association environment and it cost us a pretty penny every year having to adjust the time clocks for blocks of flats with the older door entry systems twice a year.