A couple have discovered a natural way to keep their home warm - by keeping it covered with a climbing plant.
Michael and Teresa Lye, a retired couple from south east London, tried to tame the Virginia creeper plant when they first moved into their home nearly 40 years ago, but have since discovered its practical purpose during the cost of living crisis.
The plant, also known as five-leaved ivy, is thought to act as a natural insulator for the couple’s home and keeps their rooms toasty.
Mrs Lye, 72, said: “This room is nice and warm. Go in any of the rooms - it’s warm.
“That’s why we’ve got a fan in here. In the winter, we are toasty.
“My daughter comes up and says, ‘You got the heating on?’. I say, ‘No, of course we haven’t got the heating on’.”
The parents-of-five and grandparents-of-25 bought the semi-detached property on an estate in Bromley for £24,000 in 1984.
They say the estate dates back to around 1928 and was opened by royalty, who suggested planting the Virginia creeper. But, when the couple viewed the house decades later, the plant was running amok and had even made its way inside the property.
Mr Lye, who could not recall which royal opened the estate, said residents were told “these houses would look lovely with Virginia creeper on them”.
“So the council started to plant it on all the houses. Most people moved in and got rid of it,” the 75-year-old, who worked in social housing, said.
“[When we viewed the house] there were some windows that were broken, and [the plant] had grown up the top passageway along the wall.” It had actually come in the house.”
Mrs Lye added: “It had grown in one bedroom, where they [vandals] had broken the windows.
“When we viewed it, I said, ‘Oh’. You walked in the room and it was right across the ceiling and down the walls.
“And they said, ‘No, we’re going to clear all that. We’re going to paint the window, we’re going to decorate’.”
Their home has become somewhat of a local landmark, with pictures of the property often being posted community Facebook groups.
Mr Lye added: “Every week, somebody will stop. As early as last week a van with two people in it - a low, flat truck - was going past slowly and the guy took a picture as he drove past.
“Then there was a lady out there the other day. I said, ‘It’s a pound a picture’. She said, ‘What?’. I said, ‘I’m only joking, don’t worry’.
“And she asked, ‘Don’t you get all the creepy crawlies coming in the windows?’. And I said, ‘No, the wife sleeps with her mouth open so we’re fine’.”
Additional reporting by SWNS.