Today I learned what it’s like to be at the centre of a Twitter storm.
“do gooders like Angela Terry believe it is her right to put sanctions in place for everyone else!”
“not all there are you really?”
“you have to be kidding..”
And frankly, much ruder comments I’m not going to repeat here.
And this furore was all over humble conservatories!
Millions of people in the UK have them, and as Good Morning Britain viewers saw today I am one of those. Our home came with one when we bought it.
A film crew arrived at my home at 7am the morning. The producers specifically asked us to film from this room, which is rarely used as it tends to be quite cold in winter and too hot in the summer.
I was invited on to GMB to discuss new planning regulations that are coming into place around conservatories – rules will restrict the designs of some extensions and new builds in the future. It’s a controversial move - kitchens with bi-fold doors are a fixture on all the TV design shows and many people save for years to afford to build conservatories.
But as I explained to Susanna Reid on GMB, these policies are about making NEW homes more suitable for the unbearably hot summers we will face very soon in this country. In July 2021 all four nations recorded their hottest temperatures on record.
Increasingly extreme heat will bring health issues for pregnant women, young children and older people. By 2050, every other year could bring heatwave-like temperatures so we have to plan for the impacts of climate change.
Conservatories concentrate heat which builds through the day - that’s why lots of homeowners use them for their tropical plants.
It’s also why a lot of people are finding their beautiful, hard-earned extensions too hot in the summer.
The option of air conditioning will increase energy use and therefore carbon pollution, which in turn increases global temperatures so that doesn’t make sense.
What advisers have set out in the new regulations is that new buildings at risk of overheating, if perhaps they face South towards the daytime sun, should have smaller windows, or built-in blinds or increased ventilation to keep people safe.
At least 300,000 homes are due to be built across the UK each year. It makes sense that those are fit for purpose for decades to come, rather than retrofit them later, which costs a lot more. Already one in five homes over heat in the UK, even during relatively mild summers.
These aren’t huge changes but they are important if we are going to create long-lasting, high-quality housing stock that will manage the increasing temperatures we will face.
Today Twitter and many articles on line thought differently. One article has over 2,000 comments and 500 shares! If only climate change reports about sea level rise or food security could achieve such public engagement levels! I was accused of advocating for the destruction of all conservatories and extensions. That was not the case. The debate was cut short to interview the health minister, Sajid Javid but had I had more time on GMB this morning, I would have explained if you have an existing conservatory, like me, no-one is suggesting you should knock it down.
You can however, make it safer and more comfortable by using heat reflective and solar control window films which adhere to the existing glass. These can cost about £40 a roll and are a short-term solution. Overheating is such an issue there are companies who specialise in fitting the shields and other remedies but at a cost.
I founded the consumer website One Home to help empower people to make small, affordable changes in their daily lives, as together we can make a big difference.
I appreciate there are many arguments still to be won. However, despite the uproar today, I will keep advocating for greater climate action because simply put, everything we know and love depends on us cutting pollution and adapting to three degrees of warming with the urgency that the science shows us is essential.
To see more simple and easy tips for things we can all do to be more eco-friendly and protect the things we love please visit onehome.org.uk