Households can save more than £400 a year in energy costs if the clocks are not reset by the end of October, according to an expert, who said it will help people with the cost of living problems and reduce pressure on the National Grid this winter. .
Evening energy demand peaks between 5pm and 7pm in winter. If the clocks were in daylight saving time (DST), they would stay on for part of this time, reducing carbon emissions and energy demand.
Professor Aoife Foley, a clean energy expert at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “Just by stopping winter DST in October, we save electricity because it’s evening in the winter, so we reduce the demand for electricity in commercial and residential areas as people leave work. earlier, and go home earlier, which means less lighting and heating is needed.
This will help the government deal with the “power war” in Europe caused by the invasion of Ukraine, he said. “Depending on the weather conditions this winter it is possible that we may need to start balancing energy more strictly to prevent major energy issues in December and January when gas reserves start to decrease,” he said.
Foley’s calculations show that households could save £1.20 a day and £400 a year on electricity bills if the clocks are not replaced by the end of October, although the exact amounts depend on the charges.
While Foley discusses extending daylight saving time, there has long been debate over whether to abandon DST, which was introduced in 1916 to reduce wartime energy demand by extending daylight savings time. Opponents say it causes sleep disturbances, and contributes to potential road accidents. It was originally designed in 1907 by William Willett, the architect and grandfather of Coldplay’s Chris Martin, best known for the song The Clocks.
The European parliament voted to cancel the hourly change in 2019, and polls showed that the majority of EU citizens agreed. But the changes have not been implemented and are no longer applicable in the UK after Brexit.
Foley did not include the storage of gas or electricity and gas in the commercial or industrial sectors in his calculations, but he said that this would provide “significant energy, cost and reduction of gas emissions”, hitting the evening peak in the demand for energy up to 10% .
When it comes to concerns about road traffic collisions, Foley’s research suggested that most road deaths occur in broad daylight and outside built-up areas, and usually on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, due to speed, fatigue and alcohol. things.
There will be time issues between the UK and Ireland, creating two time zones between north and south. Foley suggested that this could be resolved if the two governments agreed on an emergency proposal to end daylight saving this year.
A government spokesman said: “We do not agree with this claim, and it is wrong to suggest that this could save people money. Current daylight saving arrangements make the most of the available daylight across the UK.
“We know it is a difficult time for families across the country, which is why we have put in place immediate support for the coming winter. The Government’s Energy Price Guarantee reduces the cost of energy and millions of the most vulnerable households also receive £1,200 each this year in extra support.”
This article was amended on 21 October 2022 to add a response from the government, which was received after publication.