Scientists warn the average household will pay £1.20/day more when the clocks change on Sunday

‘Spring forward, fall back’ is a well-known saying when it comes to daylight saving. 

But why do we bother to change the clocks twice a year?

When do the clocks change?

In Spring, the clocks move an hour forward for British Summer Time (BST), to make the most of the daylight hours.

In autumn when the clocks go back the UK reverts to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

The UK is not alone, as a similar process happens in the US.

Is that how it’s always been?

In the early 1900s the clocks were always set to GMT, meaning in the summer it was light by 3am and dark at 9pm in the UK.

That was until people started to campaign for longer daylight hours to improve public health.

Change was sparked following the relentless pursuit of a builder in the 1900s.

William Willett began campaigning for change in 1905 after he noticed how many curtains were still drawn in the early hours of the morning in the summer.

In 1908 he won the support of the MP Robert Pearce after he published his leaflet ‘The Waste of Daylight’ calling for the time change.

However, the concept of rolling time back and forward was not formally introduced until the First World War, when war time coal shortages made the idea to introduce daylight saving more relevant.

During the war daylight saving allowed people to enjoy more hours of sunlight meaning there was less demand for coal-powered lighting. This left more coal to fuel the navy, railways and armaments industry.

In Spring the clocks move an hour forward for British Summer Time (BST), to make the most of the daylight hours. In autumn when the clocks go back the UK reverts to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The clocks will go back on Sunday, October 30 at 2am

Have we ever rolled the clocks back even further?

In the Second World War, Double British Summer Time was introduced. It was two hours in advance of GMT and was introduced to replace daylight saving.

During the winter, clocks were kept one hour in advance of GMT to increase public productivity.

After the war, the UK returned to BST apart from an experiment between 1968 and 1971 that saw the clocks put forward, but not back.

The experiment was discontinued, and the clocks were rolled back to GMT as it was found impossible to work out whether it had any benefit on society.

Why do people still want daylight savings time?

Advocates for the system claim the longer summer evening make people more active, reduce car accidents and save energy.

It is also argued that if the UK had one standard time all year round, it could mean farmers in Scotland would work for a couple hours in the dark during the winter.

It would also mean that children in the north of England and in Scotland would be forced to travel to and from school in the dark.

Are there calls to get rid of the clock changes?

There have been attempts to get rid of daylight saving.

Backbench MPs attempted to change BST to a permanent summer time but The Daylight Saving Bill 2010-12 was not passed by the House of Commons.

Some American states are also pushing to scrap changing the clocks. Arkansas, Delaware, Maine, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington have all ditched changing the clocks for a permanent daylight saving time.

Where else in the world changes the clocks?

Less than half of the countries in the world change the clocks to implement daylight saving, but more than 140 countries have applied it at some point.

The majority of European countries still make the switch twice a year.

In 2019, the European parliament voted to scrap daylight saving time, meaning they would no longer change the clocks twice a year. Yet, the change is yet to happen.

Parts of Australia, New Zealand, most of Mexico, Argentina, Paraguay, Cuba, Haiti, the Levant and Iran still change the clocks to save daylight hours.

And only two states in America, Arizona and Hawaii, have ditched the daylight saving in favour of a permanent winter time.