Last week we again set the clocks back an hour to mark the end of summer time. There has undoubtedly been a strong basis for introducing energy-saving phenomena such as daylight saving time. It is estimated that the annual effect of the DST phenomenon only creates an overall saving of about 1% of electricity consumption.
Last week we again set the clocks back an hour to mark the end of summer time. For those who still possess a manually raised watch, it has undoubtedly been briefly considered whether the famous garden furniture should now go in or out before pulling on the Bornholm clock or setting your wristwatch for the coming winter time. But why do we carry out these time manoeuvres twice a year at all, and does it now make sense to uphold the old tradition? We focus on time and investigate whether the original summertime basic idea still reasons with today's modern society.
It was the Germans who were behind the idea of the summertime concept. And it was energy saving and the lack of resources that propelled the phenomenon forward on April 30, 1916. The long exhausting First World War had corroded the country's resources so heavily that alternative means had to be resorted to saving the German population. Thus, it had been calculated that by deliberately manipulating the summer day, the light could be extended further out into the late hours of the day. And thereby saving 100 million German marks on the energy that would otherwise have been spent on lighting every summer.
Although the idea of daylight saving time was adopted here at home almost immediately after the Germans, the phenomenon has actually been more the exception than the rule in Denmark. The Danish wholesaler A.C Lemvig-Müller sold the idea to the Danish authorities when, based on his own calculations, he could see that Denmark stood to save DKK 750,000 in electricity costs in just two summer months by following the German idea. This was done on 14 May 1916, only to drop the project again the following year in April 1917.
It was not until 23 years later, in 1940, that summer time resumed in Denmark for an 8-year period. Ironically, forced by the German occupiers. From 1948 until 1980 summer time had again been abolished until it was reintroduced in 1980 for energy saving reasons, when it remained until today.
There has undoubtedly been a strong basis for introducing energy-saving phenomena such as daylight saving time in resource-facing belligerent countries in the early 20th century. But can the old austerity tip of the First World War be transferred directly to today's modern technological world? Pretty much not, if you're to believe the latest calculations. Although it has been noted in Denmark that daylight saving time marks an overall decrease in electricity consumption of 4-5%, electricity consumption increases accordingly again when we set the clock back and switch to winter time. It is estimated that the annual impact of the DST phenomenon only creates an overall saving of about 1%. That calculation therefore creates a natural debate about whether time has simply run out from summertime.
There is much to suggest that the DST phenomenon is gradually going on borrowed time. In addition to the proven low energy savings, there are also costs and complications associated with the two annual time changes in a modern society. For this reason, the EU was asked to be able to decide for themselves whether summer time should be phased out in the respective EU countries from 2021 onwards. No final decision has yet been taken in the EU countries, but the mere fact that the raison d'être is being discussed could indicate that summer time is coming to a standstill.
As we become increasingly energy efficient in modern society, energy saving will hopefully increase by itself over time. We are already seeing great savings on, for example, the implementation of LED bulbs in danish homes. Similar energy-saving measures are likely to cancel out the last residual effect of the famous daylight saving time, sending the garden furniture back into the shed for good. This will mean that Denmark enters permanent winter time, which is really just a misleading term for standard time.
Time may have run out of the old idea of daylight saving time, but the basic idea itself is still worth remembering – because there are fine intentions in the 100-year-old experiment. The idea of austerity from which the summertime concept was born should be transferred to our modern everyday lives, because we are facing, if any, major global challenges in connection with the green transition in the world as well as at home.
So even if one day you might park the imaginary garden furniture in the shed for good, there's still an echo of the old summertime idea in Watts' simple motto: The greenest and cheapest power is the one you don't use.
As a member of Watts, you naturally have a wide range of other innovative tools available that can create further savings on both the electricity bill as well as on CO2 emissions. But daylight saving time may no longer be a decisive factor.