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Heating Oil and Fuel Oil: What’s the Difference?

Not all fuel oil is heating oil.

heating oil Needham, MA Have you ever spoken to a service provider who just confused you more as they tried to explain something? Maybe it was a car mechanic who went on about drivetrains or catalytic converters without telling you what that meant. Maybe it was an IT person who made your head spin with VPNs, FTPs and other tech acronyms.

At Needham Oil Complete Heating & Cooling, we always want our customers to feel confident that they have a full and accurate understanding of the products and services we provide.

We have found that many homeowners who use oilheat can be confused by the differences between the terms “fuel oil” and “heating oil.” It probably doesn’t help that heating oil providers often use these terms interchangeably. With this in mind, we want to give you a rundown of what these expressions mean, how they differ and what fuel product our team delivers.

What does fuel oil mean?

Let’s start with the broader of the two terms: fuel oil.

Fuel oil is a category, not an individual product. It refers to any liquid petroleum product derived from crude oil. Fuel oils can be used in home heating or to power engines. Fuel oil can include diesel that powers road vehicles, as well as off-road diesel for generators, construction equipment, farm equipment, etc.

Fuel oil can also mean kerosene, which is produced from distilling crude oil at incredibly high temperatures. Kerosene is used for home heating, cooking and a range of industrial, aviation and general commercial functions. Because kerosene has a lower “gel point” than other heating fuels, it’s useful for mobile homes and other dwellings with outdoor fuel tanks.

How is heating oil different from fuel oil?

All heating oil is fuel oil, but not all fuel oil is heating oil. We know that sounds like the start of an SAT question, but it’s the truth. The category of fuel oil comprises heating oil and all the other products we listed above.

Home heating oil — also called no. 2 heating oil — is a petroleum product that’s similar in composition to off-road diesel. Like off-road diesel, it is not subject to the same taxes and surcharges as on-road diesel. As a result, it’s typically much less expensive per gallon than on-road diesel. Heating oil’s main role is powering furnaces, boilers and water heating equipment.

Home heating oil is also very different from kerosene. It is more apt to thicken or “gel” in sustained freezing temperatures, so most heating oil tanks are situated inside homes. Kerosene also requires specialized equipment because it burns much hotter than heating oil.

What kind of heating oil does Needham Oil deliver?

At Needham Oil Complete Heating & Cooling, we are proud to deliver Bioheat Plus® fuel. This is an eco-friendly blend of ultra-low-sulfur heating oil and biodiesel made from organic and recycled feedstocks like used cooking oil, inedible corn oil and soybean products.

The use of Bioheat Plus fuel dramatically lowers emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur oxide, particulate matter and mercury. That’s great for the planet and also your heating equipment. You see, Bioheat Plus fuel leaves fewer deposits in your heating system, which can lower your maintenance costs. Plus, you can use Bioheat Plus fuel in your existing oil-fired equipment without modifying it!

From our home base in Needham and throughout Norfolk and Middlesex counties, the Needham Oil team provides premium, clean-burning heating oil to our neighbors. Reach out to join our family of customers.