Heating Oil vs Diesel: Are heating oil and diesel the same?

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Heating Oil vs Diesel: Is Heating Oil the Same as Diesel?

You may have heard the terms heating oil and diesel used interchangeably. However, they are two distinct terms, referring to two different, albeit similar, types of fuel.

So, can you use diesel instead of heating oil and vice versa? Find the answer to these and all your other questions on diesel and heating oil in this article. Here, we cover the uses, prices, similarities and differences as well as the pros and cons of each oil type.

Is diesel fuel the same as heating oil?

Derived from crude oil, diesel and heating oil both generally fall in the mid-range petroleum category. However, they are not the same product. Each fuel type is specifically formulated for its intended use.

To answer the question of whether you can use one in place of the other, it’s important to understand the purpose of each fuel type first.

What is heating oil?

Heating oil, also known as kerosene, is a type of fuel used to heat domestic and commercial buildings. Popular in remote, off grid locations, oil heating requires a special heating oil tank and oil heating system to run. As a result of additives, there are different types of heating oil, such as standard kerosene and premium kerosene. The additives in premium kerosene help to promote a cleaner burn and increase longevity.

Heating oil uses

  • Heating your home (oil heating)
  • Heating commercial spaces such as farms

Benefits of heating oil for home heating

  • Efficient at heating your home
  • Safe thanks to its low explosion risk
  • Option to bulk buy at lower prices
  • Easy to order online
  • Deliveries available to remote locations

Learn more about the benefits of oil heating compared to natural gas.

What is diesel?

Diesel is a type of motor fuel intended for on and off-road diesel-powered vehicles. It has the appearance of oil, but it is heavier than gasoline.

Diesel uses

  • Motor fuel in diesel cars, construction machinery, agricultural vehicles, and off-road vehicles

Benefits of diesel over petrol

  • Improved efficiency
  • Reliable engines
  • Increased power
  • Cost-effective

What is red diesel?

Red diesel, or gas oil, is simply a variation of diesel with red dye. Usually diesel is light green in colour.

The main purpose of red diesel is to power off-road vehicles and machinery within the construction and agriculture industries. Red diesel is taxed differently than road diesel, making it slightly cheaper. So, the purpose of the red dye is to prevent its illegal use on public roads.

Many UK businesses relied on red diesel as heating oil until April 2022, when it became illegal. Now the heating oil of choice for commercial buildings is industrial heating oil.

Can I use diesel instead of heating oil in the UK?

In emergency situations, diesel may be a suitable home heating oil replacement depending on your boiler type. A temporary switch is unlikely to harm your storage tank or boiler. However, replacing domestic heating oil with diesel is not a viable long term solution and we wouldn’t advise switching unless it’s necessary.

Heating oil and diesel often include additives specific to their intended uses. So, using diesel instead of heating oil is a significantly less efficient and cost-effective alternative.

On the other hand, using heating oil in your diesel vehicle can have far more serious and costly outcomes. You will not only suffer from a poor fuel economy, but you also risk damaging the engine.

Heating oil vs diesel price: Is heating oil cheaper than diesel?

The prices of both diesel and heating fuel fluctuate based on supply and demand. For example, heating oil prices tend to increase in the winter when demand is high.

As diesel is mainly a motor fuel, it is liable for fuel tax. Additionally, the demand for diesel is higher than heating oil all year round, driving up the cost. Therefore, heating oil is a more cost-effective solution for home heating.

Read our guide on how to save money on heating oil.

Heating oil & diesel – Key takeaways

While many people may refer to heating oil as diesel colloquially, the two fuel types are not the same. It’s crucial to understand the differences between heating oil and diesel to avoid costly mistakes.

Get your free heating oil quote online or learn more about our heating oil products and services.