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What’s the Difference Between Heating Oil and Diesel?

Home heating oil may be somewhat overlooked during the warmer months, but as the days grow short and frost starts to creep along with the windows, it becomes a precious resource.

Boiler systems and furnaces powered by heating oil make it possible for homes that are not connected to gas lines to stay warm all winter long.

image - What's the Difference Between Heating Oil and Diesel

However, weather-related miscalculations might cause an unexpected shortage in your supply, leaving you searching for an immediate solution.

As it turns out, diesel might just be the perfect emergency fuel to tide you over. But first, it’s important to understand what distinguishes these two substances from each other.

Heating Oil vs. Diesel Fuel

Heating oil is a term that allows for more variance, as it refers to all oils produced for the express purpose of powering boilers, furnaces, and even water heater systems. It is optimized for this job, with low viscosity and an ideal condensation point.

Generally speaking, it is considered a mid-level distillate of petroleum. Diesel is also a middle-weight fuel distilled from this material. However, there are a few key differences that set it apart.

Due to its composition, diesel fuel burns hotter than heating oil and is meant to power diesel engines. Because of the similarities in how these fuels are made, diesel works fairly well as a substitute for heating oil.

One of the main problems with heating oil is accessibility. If you find yourself in a situation where you have run out of heating oil for your home, it may take some time to schedule a delivery – and during that time, you could be left in the cold.

Diesel fuel is readily available and can be found at most gas stations.

How to Use Diesel Fuel to Heat Your Home in a Pinch

The first step in procuring your replacement fuel is determining how much diesel you’ll need to fill your oil tank. Generally speaking, around five to 10 gallons should suffice. However, depending on how long it will take you to locate more home fuel oil, you may wish to purchase more.

You’ll also want to consider the amount of heating necessary for your home and the capacity of your fuel oil tank. An oil tank chart can help ensure you get the right amount.

Once you’ve purchased the fuel, you may be wondering how to fill a home heating oil tank with diesel without causing any disruptions. First, you should turn off your heating system. Then, you can add the diesel to your tank as you would with regular oil burner fuel.

Not sure how to put diesel in your oil tank? Simply locate the access point used by the oil delivery truck and pour the fuel into the fill pipe to deposit it into the appropriate tank. You can then secure the fill cap back onto the pipe and store any excess diesel, if applicable.

After filling your tank with diesel, it’s best to let it sit for a few minutes. This is because pouring in the new fuel is likely to stir up bits of sediment in the tank. If you don’t wait for them to settle, they could create clogs in the system, adding further complications to your household heating.

After you’ve waited about ten minutes, it’s merely a matter of switching your heating system on and pressing the reset button.

Why Diesel Isn’t a Permanent Alternative to Heating Oil

One final, important home heating tip: Using diesel fuel instead of regular heating oil can be a lifesaver during an emergency situation, but it is not a permanent solution.

While the two are similar enough to be effectively swapped in a pinch, their small differences become much more of a problem over time.

For starters, diesel is less efficient, producing fewer British Thermal Units (BTUs) per gallon than heating oil. It’s also much less affordable. Other aspects, such as the fact that it burns hotter than heating oil, can cause damage to your heating system, necessitating costly repairs in the future.

That’s why you must call for a delivery right away in the event of a heating oil shortage. This ensures that you won’t have to rely on diesel any longer than necessary.

Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to buy heating oil online, with convenient tracking options, transparent pricing, and rapid turnaround times all at your fingertips.


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