Fuel oil your heating system uses is a special kind of diesel fuel adjusted to long term use in home burners, making it different from diesel fuel used to power road vehicles. Since there is also biodiesel – fuel made from oil-rich plants, it’s easy to assume that the same can be adjusted for use in your oil burner.

Vegetable oil made for heating homes as a replacement for fuel oil is called biofuel. Biofuel is often thought to be more expensive by fossil fuel oil. However, this “expensive” may also relate to what is biofuel doing for you. Biofuel is much cleaner than fossil fuels which can make your furnace and burner last longer. Filter replacements should also be less frequent. This way it saves your money in long run.

Biofuels are definitely cleaner and more environment-friendly when burned in comparison to fuel oil.

There is less carbon monoxide emission, less particulate matter and unburned hydrocarbons. Biofuel contains virtually no sulphur so it doesn’t contribute in any way to the acid rain phenomenon.

biofuel or heating oilIt is, however, questionable are biofuels environment-friendly at all due to inputs needed for their production. To grow oil plant it takes synthetic fertilizers and even more diesel – mainly fossil diesel to run tractors and harvesters, and also to transport rapeseed seed to refinery and fuel to your home. Despite the latter also goes for fossil fuel oil too, it diminishes the difference in overall environment friendliness between these two.

Biofuel is highly sensitive to low temperatures, and it should not be used if your oil tank is outside. The tank needs to be in a place where temperatures never fall below 40F.

Quality of biofuel may also vary greatly. A good biofuel requires much filtration, and some of it may come as by-product from frying which contains many particles.

And there is a question what should happen if demand for biofuels increase in the future. Getting more biofuel would mean getting more land, and since land is a limited resource it will impact prices of either biofuel or, which is more likely food. Fossil fuel oil is not renewable, but it’s highly certain it will be still around after several decades and maybe even up to the end of this century.

Heating oil is a secure and reliable way to heat your home today and tomorrow.

If you want to continue use of fuel oil in your home and take some advantages from biofuel as well, you can consider blend of fuel oil and biofuel. In this case it’s the best to start with B5. This blend consists of 5% of biofuel the rest being fossil fuel, hence the name. Once you spend a tank of B5 you can order B20 which has 20% of biofuel. This is the highest biofuel concentration that doesn’t require any change to your heating system.

Presence of biofuel in heating oil will contribute to better lubrication, which should extend life of your burner and oil filter.  Most heating equipment manufacturers take biofuels in consideration so using them will not void warranties honored by them.

Homeowners who use biofuel can claim tax credit, please see this form which can be downloaded and submitted for tax credit. Starting 01/01/2008 through 12/31/2016 you can get $0.01/gallon for each percent of biodiesel from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. The value of the tax credit is $0.01/gallon for each percent of biodiesel blended with conventional home heating oil, up to a maximum of $0.20/ gallon. In other words, the purchaser of a mixture of 10% biodiesel and 90% conventional heating oil is entitled to a tax credit of $0.10/gallon. For more information please visit the Refundable Clean Heating Fuel Tax Credit from Energy.gov.