Time change: why is there a transition to winter time and a transition to summer time?


Time changes in winter, time changes in summer … it’s our planet’s fault. The inclination of the Earth’s axis of rotation about the plane of its orbit around the Sun (obliquity) varies the length of the day during the year. Summertime appears as a means of adapting the days of the inhabitants to the duration of sunshine to save lighting.

Origin of summertime and wintertime in France

The idea of ​​putting the clocks forward one hour during the summer was applied for the first time in 1916. Abandoned after the Second World War, daylight saving time returned in 1976 following soaring prices of petrol. Indeed, at the time, electricity was mainly produced by oil-fired power stations. This saving measure was only to last for the duration of the oil restrictions but was finally generalized to all of Europe in the 1980s.

Advantages of daylight saving time

In theory, daylight saving time pushes back the time of sunset, and therefore the time when we turn on the light at home. In March, the time change effectively leads to a saving in lighting in the evening, but this is canceled out by the need for lighting in the morning (because sunrise time is also delayed).

The closer you get to the summer solstice, the greater the economy because, in the morning, the sun rises before the majority of people. The Environment and Energy Management Agency quantified the gains in 2009 at 440 GWh. 

Controversies over the time change 

Studies have shown that the change to daylight saving time causes transient sleep disturbances in the elderly and children. In addition, summertime in France, which corresponds to a two-hour difference with the sun, would stress the cows, which require fixed milking times.

The European Parliament has voted in favor of the adoption of a bill on the abolition of the seasonal time change by 410 votes for, 192 against, and 51 abstentions, following a Public Consultation, the last time change would have to take place in 2021 within the European Union: either in March 2021 for countries wishing to remain on summertime, or in October 2021 for countries wishing to remain on summertime, knowing that a priori France would opt to maintain summertime.

However, as the Coronavirus / Covid-19 health crisis has greatly slowed down the process of harmonizing the different times chosen within the different EU countries according to the time zone of the Member States (to avoid any time difference within Europe), the end of the time change could not finally take place until 2023, later or even be suspended. Still, the suspension is ” for the time being” no longer on the agenda and is therefore postponed to an indefinite date.

Why do we change clocks in winter and summer?

The concept of summer-winter hours, after having been implemented for the first time in 1916, reappeared in 1975 in France following the oil shock of 74 to save energy. by living as much as possible aligned with natural sunshine. As you have understood, the objective was to reduce electric lighting by adapting our normal time to the time of the sun ( solar time ) so that it is daylight as long as possible during the hours of the life of a French way to take advantage of daylight.

But if the idea is very nice, it was very quickly called into question by studies contradicting the effectiveness of the measure, which would cause a disturbance of our biological clock and our rhythms inducing an increase in road accidents, in no longer allow far too minimal savings. This is all the more glaring with the democratization of low-consumption LED bulbs.

Worse still, because of these time changes, twice a year you have to think about setting your watch properly if you don’t want to arrive late or early the day after a time change. If normally you are sufficiently warned by the radio, the newspapers, the Internet, or the television, nothing like this site to be definitively prepared against the delays of the pendulum!

By Master James

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