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Summer time to save energy – RSI Radio Télévision Suisse

With the crisis linked to energy supplies, many recipes are proposed to save and avoid power outages on the one hand and an explosion of costs on the other. And among these, in recent days, stands out, especially in Italy, that of the maintenance of summer time, that is to say the summer time that is generally adopted from the last Sunday in March and ends on the last Sunday in October, for the whole year. The appeal was launched by the Italian Society of Environmental Medicine which focuses on the possibility of gaining an hour of sunlight and heat each day. According to estimates, if this happens, Italy could save around one billion euros on energy consumption in the first two years. The proposal was positively received by several parties, but the issue is a bit more complicated.

Hands forward, hands back

The question of the time change has been debated for decades, between the pros and cons. In 2019, the European Parliament approved by 410 votes for, 192 against and 51 abstentions the legislative resolution proposed by the Commission and requested by 84% of the 4.6 million citizens who took part in a survey, which marked the end of the transition from winter to summer time. Each state then had to decide which calendar to adopt during the 12 months of the year. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the question has faded into the background, only to reappear, precisely now. The countries of southern Europe have more interest in maintaining summer time, while those in the north, claiming that they do not benefit from more light, to keep solar time. To date, a final decision from each Member State has not yet been adopted.

And Switzerland? The role of cows

In all of this, what is Switzerland’s position? In this case, it is worth going back to the history of Switzerland to understand its current policy in this area. The idea of ​​adopting daylight saving time was not received with much enthusiasm in the Confederation in the first half of the 20th century. While belligerent neighboring countries have chosen this option to save energy, due to the shortage of coal, Switzerland has been slow. It did not have the problem of coal, its needs being covered by hydroelectricity. But not only, the breeders were concerned about their cows who, with the change of schedule, would also undergo a change in the rhythm of milking. The time change was then adopted in 1941 and 1942, to be later set aside. In this case, possible energy savings were mentioned, but in the end they were negligible. It is necessary to arrive at 1981 so that Bern aligns itself with its neighboring countries. In this case, only one thought prevailed: it was necessary to have a common calendar to facilitate the European market.

… no to “the island of time”

The Federal Council’s decision to introduce summer time was therefore purely economic. Also because, as you can read on the government’s website, in the case of “a different time system, Switzerland would become an island of time with the resulting consequences, in particular in trade relations, in the transport sector , in tourism and communications”. . But what about energy savings? As in the past, even today the combination of time change and energy saving is irrelevant. In a 2018 interview with “L’Illustré”, then head of media and politics, Fabien Lüthi of the Federal Office of Energy claimed that the savings were zero. A study conducted in 2010 came to these conclusions and no further studies have been done to date to further verify this claim.

The issue of health

But if on the one hand there are those who push for “longer” days to save energy, on the other there are those who sound the alarm bells concerning health. According to a series of studies, with permanent daylight saving time, there would be an increase in the number of people suffering from problems of insomnia, diabetes and obesity. In the United States, where the Senate has approved the “Sunshine Protection Act” (this is not yet a final decision, the House has yet to express itself), that is to say the proposal of always maintain daylight saving time, several doctors have warned of the possible dangers arising from this decision. According to experts, maintaining this schedule would not respect the circadian rhythms of the human body. In a recent statement, the Italian Society of Endocrinology also pointed out that daylight saving time can be deleterious, with 20% possible negative consequences on metabolism and the cardiovascular system. It will now be up to politicians to address all these issues in order to be able to safeguard both the economy and health.

TG 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday 14.09.2022

Ales


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