Fuel pump at Petrol Station. Diesel Pump.

Heating Oil vs Diesel: Can You Use Diesel For Heating Oil?

Home delivery makes the difference. That is one thing about home heating oil. You don't have to go out and buy the product at your local gas station and fill the oil tank yourself. It is all done for you after you make one phone call. Convenience is key and home heating oil has that.

Can you use diesel for heating oil? There is practically no difference between home heating oil and diesel fuel. They even go by the same number, #2. The good news is that 5 to 10 gallons of diesel will heat your home for a couple of days depending on your home’s size. Do not let the labels fool you.

To learn more about diesel and home heat oil just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can make the right home heating decision for you and your family.

Heating Oil and Diesel Comparison Chart

Category Diesel Fuel Home Heating Oil
Sulfur content 15 ppm 500 ppm
Structure consistent has a variety of forms
Odor yes no
BTUs 139,000 139,000
Safe to use yes yes
Weight heavier than home heating oil lighter than diesel
Efficiency not as good as home heating oil better than diesel
Burns cleanly moderate very clean burning
Price usually more expensive than home heating oil depends on the demand

Are Heating oil and Diesel the Same?


Basically, yes they are. The two types of oil are almost identical with minor differences that define their original purpose. Home heating oil is designed to work in home furnaces of boilers.

Diesel is made to work in diesel engines that power vehicles and other motors. While home heating oil has different categories like #2, #4, and $6, it is essentially the same as diesel #2.

The biggest difference you will find between these two oils is their price. Heating oil’s costs are influenced by the seasons of the year. Diesel’s cost is influenced by demand only.

This is why you may find that home heating oil will be more expensive than diesel fuel in winter and fall but not in summer or spring. The demand for heating oil goes up when people turn their furnaces back on for the colder months of the year. that spike in demand raises the prices

What is the Difference Between Heating oil and Diesel Fuel?

The differences between the two fuels are minor. One difference would be in the BTUs as diesel burns at 139,000. One version of heating oil will burn at that level but the others burn slightly less hot at around 137,000.

Another difference will be in the sulfur content. Heating oil has 30 times the amount of sulfur than diesel has. Then another difference between the fuels is that diesel found across the country is the same. It is a very consistent fuel.

The same cannot be said for home heating oil It can be found in a variety of forms depending on the region of the country it is being sold in. Those are the basic differences between the two oils.

The two fuels can substitute for each other in many instances and it might be economical to consider those substitutions. However, substituting diesel for home heating oil should only be temporary. The fuel is heavier than the oil and that may cause some clogging problems in your burn system.

Heating Oil vs Diesel

When it comes to heating your home, it is best to go with the oil that is designed to heat homes. The home heating oil will burn cleaner than diesel making it environmentally safer and friendlier.

Also, for most or much of the year, home heating oil can be cheaper than diesel fuel. it is only during those cold winter months that the cost of home heating oil surpasses diesel fuel costs. If you monitor the price fluctuations you may be able to save money by buying at the right time.

However, the experts agree that diesel fuel is not a permanent replacement for home heating oil. While the same burner can be used for both fuels, diesel just does not perform as well as home heating oil can.

2 home heating oil is supposed to be essentially the same as #2 diesel fuel but performance when you substitute one for the other is not always the same or positive.

Different people will have different results especially when they do the substitution long term.

What is Home Heating Oil Used for?


This oil option has two very basic functions. it is designed to work in furnaces to heat living or workspaces and it is also used to heat water. The three appliances it works in are furnaces, boilers, and water heaters.

Generally, this oil product is made from crude oil but over the years different manufacturers have sought to provide a nice blend to make the oil more environmentally friendly.

Believe it or not, the Northeastern part of the United States burns the most home heating oil. But due to certain restrictions, that part of the country may go to burning diesel fuel because of the lesser sulfur content in the latter fuel.

New York State has placed a limit of 15 ppm of sulfur as the top sulfur level in heating fuels. Home heating oil has 500 ppm while diesel has only 15. That is one difference between the two fuels that are being removed making the two even more identical.

If you want to go cheaper in the winter you may want to consider using diesel fuel in your furnace but do not be surprised if you have to spend some time cleaning out the burner system

Can Diesel Fuel be Used for Heating Oil?

Yes, it can. Even though diesel fuel is designed to be used in engines and motors, it can be burnt in the burn systems most oil furnaces have inside of them. The only problem you will have is that the diesel fuel being heavier may clog up the burn system.

Also, if you put 5 to 10 gallons of diesel into your home heating oil tank, you should be able to heat your home for about 2 more days. The actual length of time will depend on the size of your home and how often you use your furnace.

The other issue you have to watch out for is what is called jelling. In wintertime diesel fuels can jell making it thicker and harder to flow. Often you need to mix some other fuel in with the diesel to prevent this from taking place.

As you know by now heating oil and diesel are essentially the same product but that does not hold for every region of the country. There are variations to home heating oil that do make it different than diesel.

Those variations can make it hard to substitute one fuel for the other. You will have to do some checking in your region of the country to see how similar the two fuels are before you make the switch.

Is Heating Oil the Same as Kerosene?

Technically, no they are not the same. For example, #2 heating oil is the same as #2 diesel fuel. But #2 diesel fuel is not the same as kerosene. the reason for that is that kerosene is rated as diesel #1.

It is a diesel fuel but not quite the same as diesel #2 or heating oil #2. It is a lighter fuel and burns cleaner than either home heating oil or diesel fuel. That is so even though its BTU rate is listed as 135,000 approx.

Another difference between home heating oil, kerosene, and diesel is that home heating oil is often dyed red. That red dye states that no road taxes have been applied to the oil.

That is one major reason why it is generally cheaper than other fuels and oils. It is illegal to burn home heating oil in your car or truck’s diesel engine. Because kerosene burns cleaner and more efficiently, it may last longer than home heating oil.

That would be a relief to you financially if you could squeeze a few days more out of your oil supply. Cleaner burning also makes you more environmentally friendly and allows you to make a small contribution to this issue.

Is Heating oil a Number 2 Diesel?


Basically, the two oils or fuels are the same. Home heating oil 2 and diesel fuel 2 are essentially the same types of fuel or oil. It is when you get to home heating oil 4 or 6 that you will see any significant differences between the two fuels.

This similarity allows you to add a little diesel fuel to your home heating oil tank and get you through the next few cold days when the home heating oil delivery truck can get to your location.

While they are the same, diesel oil should only be used as a temporary substitution. there are enough minor differences in the two fuels to make burning diesel long-term a good idea. When burning home heating oil in your home, it is best to stick with that option always unless you are forced to make the substitution.

Emergencies are those forced issues that may make you make the substitution. If your oil tank at home is low, diesel will come in handy until you can get a delivery of home heating oil. It is a good stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution that will help out when you are in a pinch.

Can I use Heating Oil in a Diesel Engine?

It is possible but you need to stick to home heating oil #2 if you want to go anywhere. vehicle diesel engines are designed to burn both diesel #1 or #2 fuels. That means that since home heating oil #2 is essentially the same as diesel #2, you should have no problem using that oil to get your car or truck to its destination.

Since diesel #1 can be used in diesel engines, that means you can use kerosene in your car or truck's fuel tank. Kerosene will burn cleaner but it and home heating oil may jell on you in the wintertime so you may need to add a little extra fuel to thin it out and keep it thinned out.

Just use the alternatives when you are in emergencies. Those would be the best times to use alternative fuels in your home or your vehicles. The fuels have different sulfur content which may cause you to pause before you make the substitution.

Home heating oil is right around 500 ppm and that may not be good for your engine to handle on along term basis. Especially since diesel fuel is at 15 ppm. if you can, it is best to stick with the right fuel for your vehicle.

Can I use Home Heating Oil in my Diesel Tractor?

One of the issues you need to be concerned about when it comes to this topic is your warranty. if your tractor is new and still under warranty then do not use home heating oil to power it. The substitution will void your protection and coverage and that is never a good idea.

With that caution aside, yes, you can use home heating oil in your tractor. Since home heating oil 2 is basically the same as diesel 2, you should not have any trouble operating your older tractors.

The next major concern would be jelling in the wintertime. You will need to take steps to prevent that from happening during those cold months. other than that you should be good to go and can make the substitution without any major issues.

Unless you drive your tractors on the road. The home heating oil is a non-road tax fuel and is not made to be run on the roads. It is given a red dye so that inspectors can tell the difference.

Also, the fine for using home heating oil in your on-road vehicles is quite steep. This is not an issue you want to play or take chances with. Just use home heating oil in your off-road farm vehicles.

Is Heating Oil more Expensive than Diesel?


This will depend on the season of the year and the region of the country. In those colder regions of the country, you can expect the home heating oil to rise significantly in price. At those times of the year, you may pay more for home heating oil than diesel fuel.

At other times of the year, you should see that diesel is more expensive. The fluctuation in prices is due to the old concept of supply and demand. The more demand, the higher the cost. The less supply, the higher the cost.

It is just the way the world works at this time. Gas prices fluctuate all the time. This activity does not exclude any of the home heating oil, diesel, or kerosene products.

The best thing to do is monitor the seasons and the prices and make your purchases at the right economical time for you. There is a way to make the system work for you if you have the time to do the monitoring.

Making your bulk purchases when prices are low is one way to make the system work for you. Buy when the demand is low so you can have a few extra dollars in savings.

Heating Oil Safety


This fuel is considered one of the safest fuel options you have to choose from. Two of those safety features are that it will not explode light regular gasoline can, nor can it get hot enough to catch fire. Again, unlike regular gasoline.

Next, heating oil is said not to be able to burn in a liquid state. that is why it is okay to have your oil tank close to or in your home. It takes heating the oil to 140 degrees F before it can possibly catch fire and burn on you.

This oil will gel on you in the winter so you should add some sort of additive to make sure that doesn't take place and impede your heating process.

Some Final Words

Substituting diesel for home heating oil may seem like a good financial decision. But it should not be a permanent one as the two fuels have enough differences to make performance an issue.

While there are a lot of similarities between diesel and home heating oil, the rate and efficiency they both burn are often different. Economically, it may make sense to buy diesel fuel in the winter but that is not always the best solution.

Diesel fuel can clog your burner and give you extra cleaning tasks to perform. The choice is up to you now.

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