This coming Sunday, October 29th, at 3:00 a.m., Spain’s time will change for the second time in 2017. Clocks will be set back an hour to 2:00 a.m., so we’ll get to sleep an extra hour. This will mark the end of Daylight Savings Time, which began on March 31st.
The time change is regulated under a European Union directive that affects all EU member states. Its main purpose is to make more efficient use of daylight, in order to save electricity.
These changes normally take place during the last weekend of March, for the start of Daylight Savings Time and the last weekend of October, for the end of DST. In the fall, the clocks are set back one hour and in the spring, they are set one hour ahead.
History of the time change
According to National Geographic magazine, Benjamin Franklin was the forefather of Daylight Savings TIme. While serving as U.S. Ambassador to France, Franklin noticed that the sun rose earlier than he was used to and realized that a lot of oil - of the kind then used in lamps - could be saved if people woke up earlier.
It wasn’t until World War I, however, when Germany approved the time change as a way to save energy. In 1918, the United States established the beginning and end of Daylight Savings Time through a federal law for those states willing to follow it. Later on, during World War II, the U.S. obliged all states to follow daylight savings time, in order to save energy – a measure that European countries copied.
Is Spain in the correct time zone?
Whenever Spain changes the time, Spaniards ask themselves this question. It dates back to World War II when Spain and other European countries – with the exception of Portugal and Switzerland – set their clocks ahead one hour. At first, it was intended to be a temporary change, but it became permanent in Spain.
As a result, Spain never went back to its corresponding time zone, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) in the winter. For this reason, the Iberian Peninsula follows Central European Time (CMT) instead of Western European Time (WET). Spain therefore changes its schedule to be one hour ahead of the sun in the winter and two hours in the summer.
The main reason for changing the time is to save energy. The Institute for Energy Diversification and Savings (IDAE), estimates those savings could reach up to 5% of energy use for lighting – worth about €300 million. However, of this amount, only €90 million corresponds to households’ potential savings. The largest portion of the savings - approximately €210 million – comes from buildings in the industrial and services sectors.
Where does the time change take place?
Although Daylight Savings Time is a fairly common practice, the countries that do change time are listed below by continent. As the list illustrates, it is primarily used by western countries.
Mexico is one of the few exceptions to the time change rule. Most of the country will set their clocks back this last Sunday of October. However, a group of municipalities along the U.S. border will wait until the first Sunday of November to change time, in order to be in step with the United States.
- In Europe, all countries on the continent except for Belarus and the European part of Russia change time in the fall and the spring.
- In North America, the United States, Canada and Mexico follow daylight savings, except for Arizona and Hawaii in the United States; Sonora state in Mexico; and Saskatchewan in Canada.
- In Latin America, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile and southern Brazil use daylight savings. Other countries on the continent used to do so, although Venezuela, Surinam, Guyana and French Guiana have never followed daylight savings.
- In Asia, Russia is a special case, as daylight savings has been introduced and then canceled several times. China also implemented it only to later remove it – just like South Korea. The Middle Eastern countries that use daylight savings are Iraq, Azerbaijan, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
- In Africa, Libya, Namibia, Morocco and part of Western Sahara follow daylight savings, but most of the continent has never used it.
- In Oceania, Australia Capital Territory and the states of New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia use daylight savings, but together they make up less than half of Australian territory. New Zealand and Papua New Guinea also follow daylight savings.