How changing the clocks and never putting them back could cut energy bills

·3 min read

The clocks will spring forward this Sunday March 26, meaning darker mornings but longer evenings.

Daylight Savings Time – also known as British Summer Time – is a popular time for households to turn their heating off as the weather warms up.

Boiler experts BOXT recommend turning the heating off on the day the clocks change, but academics have suggested that going one step further and axing the date to turn the clocks back could save households £1.20 a day on their electricity bills.

A study by Queen’s University Belfast published in October 2022 found that sticking with British Summer Time throughout the year could also reduce demand on the energy grid by as much as 10pc.

Professor Aoife Foley, of the university’s mechanical aerospace engineering department, said: “[This] would reduce commercial and residential electrical demand as people leave work earlier, and go home earlier, meaning less lighting and heating is needed.”

Demand for electricity peaks between 5pm and 7pm, which can cause the grid to struggle.

The calculations by QUB did not factor in gas usage, nor electricity used by businesses – doing so, Professor Foley said, would mean potential energy savings were “even more significant”.

It comes a week after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s decision to extend the Government’s support for energy bills until July – meaning annual household bills will be capped at the equivalent of £2,500 a year for three months longer than expected.

From July, wholesale energy prices are forecast to dip to below £2,000, according to analysts at Investec, meaning state support will not be needed.

Daylight Savings Time was introduced by Willem Willet in 1907 as a wartime effort to reduce energy demand by providing earlier daylight hours in the morning.

Since 2002, the practice of adjusting clocks on the last Sunday in March and October has been adopted by most countries in the European Economic Area.

But the EU has considered forgoing DST for years as a means of saving energy.

Last year, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lee of Trafford argued that “double summer time” could be imposed as a way to help struggling families cope with rising utility costs.

A trial of maintaining British Summer Time throughout the entire year ended in 1971 after three years following strong opposition from the agricultural industry.

Those in favour of keeping DST argue that reduced daylight in the mornings would result in a higher volume of road traffic collisions, while also causing time zone issues between the UK and Ireland. It would also mean those in Scotland would not see daylight until 9am.

Trade bodies The Tourism Alliance and the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions have also said the move should be considered.

Even the National Farmers' Union of Scotland said it was “open to further independent analysis”.

Spokesman Bob Carruth said: “The modern farm is well-lit and increasingly mechanised, so the dangers posed by carrying out field operations or handling livestock in darker winter mornings are not as great as they once were.”

However, he added more research was needed, saying “insufficient justification has yet been given to make a change to the current arrangements”.