Can I Use Diesel Instead of Heating Oil?

Updated March 22, 2017

If necessary, diesel oil can be substituted for heating oil in home furnaces. Diesel fuel (used in diesel-powered vehicles) is basically No. 2 home heating oil. In the United States, red dye is added to differentiate it from higher taxed diesel fuels.

Oil Type Usage

Both fuel oil mixtures are petroleum based and have similar properties, depending upon the oil grade. Yet, not all diesel oils can be safely used as home heating oil. While diesel fuel oils 1-D and 2-D should not be used, fuel oil No. 2 is considered home heating oil and can be used in your home.

Take Precautions

Even though all fuel oil mixtures have similar chemical and physical properties, exercise caution and make certain your fuel distribution company sells and ships you the correct type of heating oil. Sometimes a company may sell Standard Road Diesel Oil #2, Diesel Oil #1, Diesel Oil #2, Kerosene, K-1, Jet Fuel, JP-1, Agricultural Diesel, Home Heating Oil/Fuel Oil #4 or Home Heating Oil/Fuel Oil #6 for use as home heating oil, according to Enviroharvest.

The Differences

Diesel Oil # 2 and Home Heating Oil differ only in the tax applied to diesel oil at the time of sale. Red dye, which is applied to diesel fuel oil to be sold as home heating oil, does not affect the performance of the fuel. "In an emergency, if you're out of home heating oil you can drive to the 'gas' station to purchase diesel fuel," according to Inspectapedia.

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About the Author

Kevin Fobbs began writing professionally in 1975 and has been published in the "New York Times," "Detroit News," "Michigan Chronicle," "Soul Source" magazine and "Writers Digest" magazine. Fobbs obtained a political science and journalism degree from Eastern Michigan University and attended Wayne State University Law School.