Heating oil is a generic term used to describe petroleum-based oil used to fuel boilers, hot air heating systems, and some furnaces. There are several different heating oil types on the market, so understanding the difference is vital if you want to get the right fuel for your heating system.
Common Heating Oil
The most common heating oil product used today in furnaces and heating systems is number two heating oil. This heating oil is similar to diesel fuel in characteristics. Still, it has a dye added to it to make it easier to identify, mainly because diesel and number two heating oil are taxed differently.
Number two heating oil is extremely stable. It works well in heating systems because it can produce one hundred and thirty-eight thousand BTUs (British thermal units) per gallon of fuel, making it very efficient. The downside, if there is one, is that it gels in freezing temperatures, so number two heating oil often needs some additional additives to change the viscosity of the oil.
Kerosene Or Number One Oil
Many people know kerosene as a fuel used in portable heaters, but it is actually a part of the oil that is removed during the refining process when making number two heating oil. It burns hotter, is less affected by cold, and can be used as an additive to help reduce the gelling of the heating oil in your tank.
Fuel stored outside in the winter in areas that routinely see freezing temperatures can use kerosene or number one oil at a ratio of around thirty percent kerosene to seventy percent heating oil to stabilize the fuel's gelling. The number one or kerosene will burn in your heating system all by itself, but it would be costly to fill the heating oil tank with kerosene for the winter, so mixing the fuels is often the best solution.
If you are unsure about which fuel to use or what mix to consider in the winter, have your heating oil company look at your furnace or heating system and recommend the best heating oil for your situation. The delivery driver will often recommend the mix for you based on experience, but you can opt to change the mix if you like.
Other Heating Fuels
There are grades of heating oil that continue up through number six, but those fuels' quality makes them unable to be used in a heating system in your home or business. Those fuels are often used in large stationary engines on generators or other production machines.