The power of the sun is sufficient, even in spring, to warm up a conservatory or greenhouse to a comfortable temperature. Under glass, the temperature will be warm enough for us to sit and enjoy reading, needlework, crafting, a nice cup of tea; whatever floats our boat.
The Earth is warming up, and the old name for this, before ‘Global Warming’ or ‘Global climate change’, was the greenhouse effect.
A conservatory or greenhouse is warmer than the outside, because light energy from the sun penetrates the glass & heats the air inside, but the heat energy created by this can’t get back out through the glass (the reasons for this I won’t bore you with). So energy comes into the system, and can’t leave; the result is a rise in temperature. A similar process works for the Earth, only this time, it’s carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that traps the heat energy and stops it leaving, raising the Earth’s overall temperature in the process.
Anyway, back to the conservatory tax. In fact, it wasn’t a tax, and it didn’t apply to conservatories; in typical fashion, the papers had got hold of the wrong end of the stick. What had been proposed was that for major building work, such as adding an extension, the extra heating costs for the new living space would be offset by improving the insulation in the original home.
The current law requires high levels of insulation in the extension but leaves the rest of the home unchanged; this is an expensive way of doing it, and it usually means that the home’s heating bills go up significantly after an extension is added. Because a new extension is normally much smaller than the original home, reducing a home’s heating bill by improving the insulation in the original home would actually cost less than adding more and more insulation to the new extension. That is, you'd achieve the savings at lower initial cost - sound like a good idea?
So the proposed changes recognised this. They were described by some commentators, including Kevin McCloud of Grand Designs fame, as “about as sensible as sensible gets, especially when the homeowner doesn’t have to pay for those improvements” (referring to the ability to use Green Deal to cover the cost, so avoiding any extra expense for the home improver).
The Government responded to press reports about a tax on conservatories by announcing that they had dropped this tax. Of course, as there never was such a tax proposed, it was rather easy to drop.
The consultation on the proposed changes has now closed, but the Government's response is not yet published, so we don't know if the original, sensible proposals will still be there. I am not a great believer in conspiracy theories, but if they have truly been dropped, I will be thinking along the same lines as Kevin. Could there be any truth in talk of a conspiracy by the energy suppliers to protect their sales and profits?
Well, since writing this original blog post for LinniR's blog, I've heard that the Government has made U-turns on many of the daft new taxes they proposed in the Budget, such as the Pasty Tax.
Wouldn't it be great if they also dropped their opposition to this sensible non-tax?