Heating Oil 101- Top Facts You Need To Know

Heating oil is a major fuel widely used across the US. It can be defined as a beneficial low viscosity petroleum product (liquid) which is deployed as fuel for boilers and furnaces in buildings. It’s to stress here, heating oil is used in both residential and commercial spaces. It’s the #2 fuel oil in the USA. Although heating oil and diesel oil are marketed or sold out as the same product mostly yet there are some major differences between the two. The post below offers a brief on heating oil so that you can have a clear understanding of the product. 

Composition of heating oil

Heating oil contains petroleum-derived hydrocarbons (14-20 carbon-atom dimension) which condenses in between 250 degree- 350 degree C in times of oil refining. It’s to note here the condensation temperature of heating oil is lower in comparison to bitumen, petroleum jelly, lubricating oil and candle wax. Heavier hydrocarbons involve much higher condensation temperature such as 340 degree to 400 degree C. On the other hand, the condensation temperature of heating oil is higher compared to kerosene (160 degree -250 degree C). 

Heating oil generates 38.6 MJ/I as well as weighs around 8.2 lbs/ US  gallon. 

Heating oil variants

In regards to heating oil variants, you have 4 major options. Among these 4, the low-sulphur ones are the cleaner variants and also more popular. Cleaner oils assure better efficiency and durability of machinery life. Here is a list on the 4 major variants of heating oil.


It’s the standard option for heating oil that’s used in homes as well as in industrial spaces. Kerosene is comparatively more economical compared to other similar variants. Not only that, kerosene also burns well and causes little pollution. No wonder, kerosene is the most popular heating oil for customers.

Kleenburn Kerosene

As the name says, Kleenburn Kerosene is way cleaner compared to regular kerosene oil. It’s because it assures even lesser pollution while burning in comparison to kerosene oil. But yes, KLeenburn Kerosene comes with a higher price point. However, when you consider its eco-friendly quotient as well as low emission attributes, the higher price point seems to be justified. 

Gas oil

This heating oil variant is mostly deployed in older machineries that demand heavier fuel. And yes, the variant is the filthiest or dirtiest of the 3 oils mentioned here.

Furnace fuel

It’s generally used in different kinds of municipal buildings, such as colleges and schools. It must be stressed here, this fuel is completely compliant to the BS EN 2869 standards. Furnace fuel is widely used for commercial boilers. 

Differences between heating oil and diesel fuel

The discussion would be incomplete without a discussion on the major differences between heating oil and diesel fuel. As mentioned previously, although these two are often marketed as same yet there are some major differences. One of them is sulphur content. As per legal regulations, heating oil’s sulphur content should be under 500 ppm. On the hand, the sulphur content must be under 15ppm in the case of diesel oil. The other difference is in regards to taxation system. It’s to note here, heating oil in New Jersey and in other places across the US, is taxed less compared to its diesel counterpart. As a result, heating oil has become a more popular choice for motor fuel, than diesel oil. 

The two oils are also dyed in different colors for easy identification. Heating oil is usually dyed in red which has given it the name “red diesel”. If you use red diesel for highway drive, you won’t be taxed. On the other hand, diesel fuel is dyed in green. 

Use cases of heating oil

Around 5.7 million residential units across the US count on heating oil for space heating. Some of the households even use the fuel to heat up water. However, the amount oil needed to heat up water is much less than what is required for space heating. 

The Norteast part of the US is the highest (87%) consumer of heating oil. The southern part comprises of 7% users, the Midwest 5% and the West comprises of 3% users. Heating oil is a necessary fuel for lamps, engines, stoves, heaters and lanterns. The fuel is used in agricultural, industrial and commercial environments to power up off-road vehicles and machineries. 

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