The Office of Fair Trading estimates at least 1.5 million UK households, mainly located in rural areas, are reliant on domestic heating oil.
During the coldest winter in Britain for over 30 years, the cost of heating oil rose from 41p per litre in September to 71p per litre in December – an increase of more than 70%.
Last week, the OFT formally launched an investigation into the cost of alternative sources of domestic energy, after the severe cold weather in December brought a raft of complaints about heating oil in particular.
Explaining the impact on those who live and work in the countryside, Nicki Whittaker, spokeswoman for NFU Mutual, said: "Rural homes, with no access to a mains gas supply, have no choice but to struggle with rising oil prices.
"Oil has to be paid for upfront, and if you add to this the cost and inconvenience of having that fuel stolen and the possible issue of contamination following a theft, fuel poverty in rural areas becomes a very real issue.
"We often experience a spike in the number of reported incidents of oil being stolen from people’s tanks when the cost of the commodity rises – we last saw this in 2008. Heating oil is a lucrative commodity for thieves when the market value peaks; as such we are advising people to treat their supply like liquid gold."
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