Running out of heating oil? Using diesel as a substitute can tide you over 

Monitor staff
Published: 1/2/2018 3:40:54 PM

Homeowners who run out of heating oil and can’t wait days for a refill have an option: diesel fuel.

Diesel, as sold at many gas stations, is an acceptable replacement for home heating oil in virtually all furnaces. Both diesel and heating oil No. 2 are midlevel or midweight distillations of petroleum that produce roughly the same amount of heat and can be burned by the same systems.

Gasoline, on the other hand, is a lightweight distillation that cannot be used as a substitute for heating oil. Do not put ordinary gasoline in your oil tank – it will damage your furnace and cause other problems.

If you’re on the verge of running out of heating oil, or have run out, pouring diesel fuel into the tank can hold you over until a delivery is made. Diesel was selling for $2.45 a gallon on average in New Hampshire as of Tuesday, according to price-tracking website

It’s recommended that you turn off your furnace before pouring the diesel into your heating oil tank, then wait 10 minutes or so before turning the furnace back on. This will allow any sediment that was stirred up by diesel being poured into the tank to settle, making it less likely to clog the system.

Running on diesel for too many days is not a good idea, however, as it can eventually interfere with the operation of the furnace.

Kerosene is another acceptable alternative to home heating oil of the type known as No. 2, a designation that indicates its weight and grade. Almost all home heating oil is No. 2; if you happen to burn a different weight of oil, diesel may not be an acceptable substitute.

Note that it is not a good idea to make the diesel-oil substitution in the other direction: That is, home heating oil is not a good replacement for diesel in vehicles because it lacks lubrication aspects that are important for engines to operate.

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

Stay informed with our free email updates
Concord Monitor Daily Headlines
Concord Monitor Breaking News
Concord Monitor Dining & Entertainment
Concord Monitor Report For America Education
Concord Monitor Report For America Health
Concord Monitor Real Estate
Concord Monitor Sports
Concord Monitor Suncook Valley
Concord Monitor Contests & Promotions
Concord Monitor Weekly Most Popular
Concord Monitor Granite Geek
Concord Monitor Monitor Marquee
Concord Monitor Hopkinton
Concord Monitor Politics
Concord Monitor MY CONCORD
Concord Monitor Franklin

Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301


© 2021 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy

Customer Service

Social Media


View All Sections

Part of the Newspapers of New England Family