It’s actually only a difference of a single hour. Nonetheless, the obligation to change the time twice a year generates lots of discussion and confusion. When summer time ends at 3 a.m. on October 30, we can enjoy having an additional hour at our disposal, because the winter time that follows it will start at 2 a.m. Strictly speaking, the term “winter time” is not correct, because technically it is called “normal time” or “zone time.”
Winter time? Summer time? Normal time? Don’t let these terms confuse you.
A look at their history will help us get a better understanding of the currently valid regulations for time switching. Summer time, which is valid for seven months of the year, is a deviation from the standard time zones that were defined for the first time in 1884. Ever since then, these time zones have formed the basis of smooth long-distance transportation in many countries. After the introduction of time zones, local time was no longer a basic reality that depended on the position of the sun. Instead, it became a practical convention — one that could, of course, be temporarily altered. In countries where the length of the daylight period changes drastically depending on the season, people were convinced that moving their clocks ahead during the summer months could help them save energy.
The universal idea behind summer time is that if people wake up earlier they can make better use of daylight. In the beginning, summer time not only saved candle wax, coal, and petroleum but also increased people’s productivity. But is that really so? Experts have been arguing about that ever since Daylight Saving Time was introduced — at least for certain periods of time — in 1916. In the course of history, Daylight Saving Time was abolished several times but always reintroduced.
The oil crisis of the 1970s finally ensured the lasting comeback of summer time. But energy policy is not the only reason why the regulation concerning summer time is still valid today. Although it was originally meant to help people in times of scarce resources, it can also enhance the quality of life. “Summer time” sounds like a promise, but it’s a promise fulfilled. On the practical level, it enables us to spend long sunlit evenings sitting in a beer garden or walking along the beach. Opponents of summer time complain that these pleasures tend to increase energy consumption rather than reducing it.