Changing the clocks and never putting them back could cut energy bills by £400 a year

On March 26th, the clocks will spring forward, resulting in longer evenings but darker mornings due to Daylight Savings Time, also known as British Summer Time.

As the weather becomes warmer during this time, many households tend to turn off their heating. Boiler experts BOXT suggest that it’s best to switch off the heating on the day the clocks change.

However, academics recommend going further by eliminating the date to turn the clocks back, which could potentially save households £1.20 per day on their electricity bills.

According to a study by Queen’s University Belfast published in October 2022, sticking to British Summer Time throughout the year could reduce the energy grid’s demand by as much as 10%.

Professor Aoife Foley of the university’s mechanical aerospace engineering department explained that this would reduce both commercial and residential electrical demand as people tend to leave work and go home earlier, resulting in less lighting and heating needed. Demand for electricity typically peaks between 5 pm and 7 pm, which can cause strain on the grid.

The energy savings calculated by QUB did not take into account gas consumption or electricity used by businesses. If these factors were included, Professor Foley stated that the potential energy savings would be even greater.

This revelation comes a week after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced that the government’s support for energy bills would be extended until July. As a result, annual household bills will be capped at a maximum of £2,500 per year for three additional months, beyond what was initially anticipated.

According to Investec analysts, wholesale energy prices are expected to fall below £2,000 from July, which means state support won’t be necessary.

Daylight Savings Time was first introduced by Willem Willet in 1907 as a way to reduce energy demand during wartime by providing earlier daylight hours in the morning. Since 2002, the majority of countries in the European Economic Area have adopted the practice of adjusting clocks on the last Sunday in March and October. For years, the EU has considered abandoning DST to save energy.

In 1971, a trial of maintaining British Summer Time throughout the year was ended after three years due to strong opposition from the agricultural industry. Those in favour of keeping DST argue that reduced daylight in the mornings would increase the number of road traffic accidents, cause time zone issues between the UK and Ireland, and deprive those in Scotland of daylight until 9 am.

However, various trade bodies, including The Tourism Alliance and the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, have suggested that the move should be considered. The National Farmers’ Union of Scotland has also expressed openness to independent analysis, stating that modern farming practices are well-lit and increasingly mechanized, resulting in reduced dangers from carrying out field operations or handling livestock during darker winter mornings.

However, the spokesman Bob Carruth emphasized that further research is needed before any changes to the current arrangements can be made.

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