On freezing cold days, you need to keep your home warm – it’s non-negotiable. What is negotiable, however, is how much you’ll pay for reliable oil sources. When searching for fuel, it’s crucial that you compare heating oil prices to ensure you are getting the best deal possible.
However, when you’ve made a miscalculation or your area is experiencing low supply, and you are hours away from running out of fuel, your options may be less than ideal. In an emergency, help could be hours or days away – leaving your family without heat. In this situation, you may wonder: Can I use diesel fuel while I wait for my heating oil delivery?
How Are Heating Oil and Diesel Fuel Different?
Before we discuss whether it’s safe to substitute diesel fuel for heating oil in your fuel oil tank, it’s important to understand the differences between the two substances. Heating oil is a low-viscosity fuel developed with the optimal condensation point in mind to allow it to perform well in your home heating system. In general, the term applies to a group of mid-weight petroleum-based oils that burn at a temperature safe for use in residences and businesses. Depending on the particulars of your heating system, heating oil can fuel furnaces, boilers, and even some hot water heaters.
Diesel fuel – while also a petroleum distillate – was developed for use in diesel engines like those present in commercial trucks, buses, locomotives, and large generators. Although it is also a mid-weight fuel, its viscosity and condensation points make it less ideal for use in homes and businesses. Perhaps most importantly, diesel fuel burns at a higher temperature than fuel oil, which can impact the operation of your home’s heating system.
Can You Use Diesel Fuel in Place of Heating Oil?
The short answer is yes. In fact, due to their composition, diesel fuel and heating oil share enough characteristics that diesel will work as a temporary substitute for heating oil. However, the differences between the two products could cause issues over time. Specifically, the additional heat (measured in British Thermal Units, or BTUs) produced by burning diesel versus heating oil can cause damage to your heating system, necessitating repairs or a complete replacement down the road.
Additionally, diesel fuel can be more expensive by the gallon – another reason relying on it isn’t the most fiscally conscious decision. As a result, although diesel is more readily available in the short-term, heating oil delivery is a much more cost-effective and time-saving solution in the long run.
How to Use Diesel Fuel as a Substitute?
Fortunately, running low on heating oil is easily solved by scheduling a delivery from a New England oil company as soon as possible. First, however, you’ll need to make sure your fuel oil tank is low enough to necessitate this quick fix. Read the float gauge on the fuel oil tank to ensure that you are out of heating oil. You can also remove the plastic cover and carefully lift the disc to see if the float is stuck. If the float moves freely and the disc sinks to the bottom, your tank is likely empty.
When you unexpectedly find yourself without heating oil, it could be time to consider a substitute. If your local heating oil company can’t get there right away, don’t hesitate to venture to your local gas station since, as mentioned, diesel fuel substitutes for heating oil quite well. You’ll want to consider buying five or 10 gallons of diesel fuel, depending on your current levels.
When you’re back home, follow these simple steps:
- Turn off your heating system.
- Locate your fill pipe and access point on the outside of your home.
- Remove the cap.
- Pour the diesel fuel down into the fill pipe so it can enter the tank.
- Give the fuel some time and combine it with any existing fuel oil. Wait at least five to 10 minutes to make sure sediment settles to the bottom of the tank.
- Press the reset button for your burner to start the system back up. If it does not startup, you may have to bleed the fuel lines to release any air trapped in the system. This can be quite a process, so it’s recommended that you consult with a professional if this issue occurs.
Why Diesel Is Only Ideal for Short-Term Substitutes
Diesel should not be your go-to resource when it comes to home heating fuel. Instead, diesel is great for circumstances where you accidentally run out of oil. When you’re in a pinch, diesel can save the day.
In the meantime, coordinate with your regular home heating oil provider to ensure you don’t experience fuel shortages during the coldest months. Need a new heating oil company? Compare heating oil prices and delivery costs online to determine the most cost-effective solution for your needs.compare heating oil prices, diesel fuel, diesel versus heating oil, fuel oil, fuel oil tank, heating oil company?, home heating oil, New England oil, oil tank