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Daylight saving time. History and what it means for industries?

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULatvia and many other countries around the world will transition from daylight saving time on 29 October. All clocks will be switched one hour back.

In Latvia, the transition will be carried out at 04:00 on Sunday, 29 October. The transition back to daylight saving time will be carried out on 25 March 2018.


The idea for daylight saving time appeared for the first time at the end of the 18th century. In 1784, Benjamin Franklin, who was then the US envoy in France, wrote an essay An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light, which he then sent to his friend who worked as an editor at Journal of Paris. The idea for the transition to daylight saving time appeared in Franklin’s mind when he was suddenly awoken by a loud noise at six o’clock in the morning.

When he woke up, Franklin was surprised to see bright light illuminating the room. A simple mathematical calculation helped Franklin calculate how much money Parisians spent by going to bed at midnight and waking in the afternoon and burning candles and oil lamps.

A century passed after Benjamin Franklin’s initial idea. In 1907 English builder William Willet mentioned DST again. Willet proposed switching the clock 80 minutes forward and by 20 minutes on every Sunday in April and doing the same in September, only the other way around. Willet’s proposal was ultimately rejected, but in 1916 the British parliament approved the law in accordance with which clocks were to be switched one hour forward to Greenwich Time in summer.

Daylight saving time was used for the first time by Germany, Britain, Ireland and France at the beginning of WWI. Its initial goal was saving energy.

During WWII, England introduced so-called Double Summer Time, which differed from Greenwich Time by two hours.

USA approved the law on transition to daylight summer time in 1918 to save resources for participation in WWI. This law remained in force for seven months between 1918 and 1919 because it was unpopular among Americans.

DST in Latvia

Information from the Latvian National Archive details that transition to DST in Latvia dates back to 1919 and 1920. Regular transition to DST among EU member states was introduced in the 60s and 70s of the 20th century, but the transition schedule differed from country to country. A similar situation was noted in Latvia, when the Soviet Union joined other countries around the world on 1 April 1981 and adopted regular transition to DST.

In Latvia, this transition was introduced for the first time in 1981. From 1997, DST is in force from the last Sunday of March until the last Sunday of October.

What do Latvian residents think about DST?

In March 2014, Latvian Economy Ministry performed an internet survey, asking residents to voice their opinions about the practice of transitioning to and from DST. A total of 6,244 respondents had participated in the survey. 4,917 of them voiced their dissatisfaction with this practice. Representatives of business organizations, NGOs, state and municipal institutions voiced their opinions on the effect of DST on different sectors.

Results of the survey showed contrasting opinions about the pros and cons among different group and sectors. Disruption of natural biorhythms was mentioned as one of the most serious problem that affects and individual’s ability to work. Some of the most often mentioned benefits included longer evenings and saving energy.

Agricultural activities are seasonal and the time one can use efficiently for work is very important. During the summer season, especially in heat waves, agriculture workers can start working early, when air temperature is relatively lower than it is during the day. DST does, however, have a somewhat negative effect on poultry and dairy industry. No real changes are noted for plant production.

In the energy sector, transition to daylight sunlight time helps save energy. Although individually private persons feel the difference in their bills, the overall difference in the country is negligible.

For construction industry, DST has a positive effect – considering the relatively short construction season in Latvia, transition to DST has a positive effect on productivity and allows organization of work in two shifts. At the same time, businessmen note that cancelling transition to DST would increase construction costs.

Healthcare specialists say more daylight in the afternoon improves psychological and physiological health – D vitamin synthesis, and longer evening hours increase the opportunity for residents to spend time doing outdoor physical activities. At the same time, it is noted that DST does cause sleep problems, which can, in turn, have negative impact on attention. The switch affects people with psychological disorders more than others.


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