Heating Oil vs Diesel Fuel: A Look at the Differences

In 2018, 5.5 million homes reported using heating oil as their primary source of space heating. Of these, an incredible 82 percent were located in the northeast.

There is a widely held belief that diesel fuel is the same as home heating oils. This thinking leads many homeowners to believe they can use diesel fuels in their home heating tanks.

But how accurate is this thinking? What is the real difference between heating oil vs diesel fuel?

Continue reading to learn about each of these fuel types. Also, learn whether diesel fuel is an appropriate substitute for heating oils when it comes to keeping your home warm.

What Is Heating Oil?

Heating oil is a general term used for a variety of different fuel types. “Heating oil” is any oil that can be used for heat.

Sometimes heating oils can be mixed with heavier oils. This mixing is done to help provide more heat without burning as much fuel.

Both diesel and standard home heating fuel can be considered heating oils. This doesn’t mean they’re equal in how they perform, however. It’s important to note that because two types of oil can be interchanged, it doesn’t mean they should be.

What Is Diesel?

Diesel is a middle-weight oil created during the distillation process. It’s heavier than traditional gasoline but looks like an oil. There are different types or “grades” of diesel.

Diesel number 2 is one of the most commonly used. It can be used to power generators, buses, trucks, trains, and boats.

Another form of common diesel is called ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD). This type of diesel fuel is used in America to power road vehicles.

How Is Crude Oil Made?

Crude oil is the starting point for all common fuel types. In the beginning, carbon and hydrogen atoms form hydrocarbon compounds. These compounds are created in varying sizes and lengths, based on several different factors.

Crude oil undergoes a refining process known as distillation. During this process, the hydrocarbon compounds will separate based on their boiling points.

Compounds with a higher boiling point will settle closer to the bottom. Compounds with lower boiling points will settle closer to the top.

These compounds are then separated into varying types of fuels. This is the process where both home heating oil and diesel fuel are created. Both of these are considered a “middle-weight” compound, meaning they settle in the middle.

What is Home Heating Fuel?

Home heating fuel is what you might get during a routine propane and heating oil delivery. This is the type of fuel best suited to heat your home.

Some alternatives could be used to home heating fuel varieties. Standard road diesel number 2 and diesel number 1 are conventional alternatives. It isn’t generally recommended unless there are no other choices, however.

Why Choose Home Heating Fuels?

Knowing your home heating fuel could be switched for diesel might cause you to wonder what the real difference is between the two. Before you decide to grab some diesel for your home heating tank, however, you should be aware of the key differences.

Less Costly

Home heating fuels cost less than using natural gas or electricity to heat your home. They also tend to be less expensive than diesel fuels.

Many people become confused about the price points of home heating oil because it sometimes requires a larger upfront payment. If you have your fuel delivered, you have to pay a set amount ahead of time.

If your heater itself is still in good condition, the heating fuel you receive will equal out to be less expensive than other options. Some people even use home heating oil for their hot water needs.

Safer for Your Home

Home heating fuels are less likely to explode than other fuel types. This includes diesel. The major downside to using diesel in place of home heating fuels it that there is a higher chance of combustion.

More Efficient

Heating oil is designed to heat your home. Thanks to this, it’s more efficient at doing the job than any other fuel.

Burns Cleaner

Heating oil burns cleaner than alternatives. Cleaner burning means your home heater remains cleaner internally and works longer.

While it can be okay to use alternatives in dire situations, it can dirty the inside of your heater. Once your heater becomes too dirty, it doesn’t work as efficiently.

Where to Get Home Heating Oils

For the most part, home heating oils come through fuel delivery companies. These companies usually work locally to deliver heating oil or propane to their client’s homes.

The fuel is stored on the back of trucks, in large tanks. The driver will deliver the oil into a homeowner’s fuel tank through special hoses.

To find a home heating oil delivery company near you, you should search for local listings. There may be only one company that serves your area. Alternatively, there may be several companies you can choose from.

The price of oil might vary from one company to the next in areas with multiple options. Generally, however, it won’t vary more than a few cents per gallon. This is because, like gasoline, heating oil prices are usually standard across geographical areas.

Do You Have More Questions About Heating Oil Vs Diesel Fuel?

Heating oil and diesel fuel are similar in that they are both middle-weight fuel types. Although they can technically be interchanged, home heating oil is better for your heaters than diesel is. It’s not recommended you substitute diesel fuels unless you have no other options.

Do you have more questions about heating oil vs diesel fuel?

Check out our other blog posts. You’ll find a wealth of information on related topics.