Gasoline $1.70, Diesel $2.80 : why?


I remember a story on the radio about Mercedes’s head guy, who lived in Massachusetts, who did this. Since he was open about it I assume it was legal. Maybe he paid the tax, just got the summer price for the whole year’s fuel. When I lived in rural California a neighbor got busted for using farm diesel in his road cars.

All of NH is still few. I remember helping a friend who lived on a farm in upstate NY. His oil furnace spritzed a stream between the electrodes of a 5 KV transformer, the discharge lighting the fuel. The backstop was some kind of ceramic plate. It was the most primitive thing I’ve ever seen, not counting the wood stoves I heated with. He needed a new transformer.

Does anywhere allow those buried? I had propane for my cooking stove when I heated with wood. When it was below zero, they were beautiful. Everybody in California who isn’t on a utility gets propane. I didn’t know anyone who buried them.


We use propane at the lake and is very common unless using higher cost electricity for heat. I’ve never heard of buried propane tanks though. Maybe they do but I just never heard of it. Yeah they are a little ugly but you try to hide them and it’s better than freezing.

Well I guess they do bury them. My day for being wrong. One out of 365.


A lot of the propane tanks used on the campus where I used to work were underground. The propane was used for boilers, a cafeteria kitchen, and laboratory use.


It’s pretty common where I used to work. We used dyed off road diesel in our emergency generators, so we stored it on campus. The irony isn’t lost on me that guys from Environmental Health & Safety fill their Sprinter van with dyed off road diesel when they drive to other campuses for meetings. I think off road diesel has more sulfur than ULSD.

I’ve pointed out to them that the pump is labeled “off road diesel,” but they do it anyway. I’m tempted to rat them out sometimes, but I don’t want to burn my bridge there and I doubt anyone would do anything about it if I stuck my neck out.

The funny thing is it would be easy to prove. The proof is right there in the fuel logs.


Guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that I’ve never seen a buried propane tank.


Most towns in NH allow it. Some don’t.

Heating oil mainly found in the North East. Over 5 million people use heating oil just in the North East.

You think all oil heating systems are that way? Mine is fairly sophisticated. And so efficient that the fumes can be vented directly like a propane furnace. No power-vent or chimney required.

If NG was available I’d use it. But it’s not. And when I bought my house 20+ years ago, oil was by far the cheaper option.


Anywhere else?

No. This was a 19th-century farm house. I hope new ones are better.


One thing that I haven’t seen mentioned here, on the supply side: I read recently that much of that shale oil being produced in the U.S. is of a “sweet crude” variety, that is more likely to be refined into gasoline and other types of non-diesel petroleum products. Diesel, on the other hand, is typically refined from much “dirtier” (high sulfur) oil that typically comes from the Middle East and other non-US regions.

As US oil production has increased as a % of overall supply, so too has the supply of gasoline specifically, thus driving down its price relative to diesel.


Maybe @Docnick will weigh in on this as a petroleum expert. I thought it was the other way around.


i must be getting old. i can remember when diesel was 8 cent a gallon.


Here’s a discussion on the impact of shale oil on diesel:


@RandomTroll. I lived for part of a year in a trailer that had a more primitive system than the system you described where the oil is spritzed between the high voltage discharge. The trailer had a heating stove where the fuel oil flowed into a pot where it burned. To start them flame, I would drop a lighted piece of toilet tissue into the pot and turn a valve to let the fuel oil flow into the pot The only electric power was for a fan to distribute the heat. However, the stove would provide heat if the power was off. I have seen oil furnaces that worked the same way.


They don’t want those huge ugly and DANGEROUS things in there yard. A lot of rural areas around here have propane and the smart customers have a huge berm between the tank and house.


I have 500g propane tank buried 30ft from the house and 275g fuel oil tank in basement. The propane company owns and maintains their buried tank. It is tested at least once a year. My neighbor has two of them for 1000g capacity, again buried. This is in NH.

When I lived in WI, plenty of rural homes heated with oil. Not lucrative to run gas lines…


You win. I can’t believe you didn’t die of carbon monoxide poisoning. I read an article in NEJM about 2 guys found in a trailer in New England 1 winter. They had been ‘heating’ by running a lawn mower. 1 was already dead. The other survived, but the article stated he didn’t recover full neurological function. I wondered how much neurological function he had to begin with.


@RandomTroll. The oil heating stove was vented, but my clothes still smelled like fuel oil. These pot type oil heating stoves were quite common. About once a month when I was growing up we would get a circular in the mail from the Ziegler heating stove company advertising their oil heaters. Often, in a rental house, you were expected to furnish your own heating stove.
The gun type oil burner you described was a big improvement over the pot type burner. I was a graduate student when I lived in the trailer for two terms. My office as a graduate assistant, was in an old house the university owned and used for office space. It was heated by a gun type oil furnace as you described. One day we had no heat. I went down the basement and looked at the furnace. There was a stack switch on the flue that was off. I flipped it to on. The oil pump motor ran for about 30 seconds and the switch tripped off. I then flipped the switch to on and held it. Suddenly, the fuel oil ignited, the furnace practically jumped off the floor, and black smoke rolled out of the furnace. I ran upstairs and chased everyone out of the house. We stood outside for a few minutes and I ventured back in. The house hadn’t blown up so I cautiously went down the basement. The furnace was purring away as if nothing had happened. I gave the “all clear” and we all went back to work. A few days later, the furnace didn’t start again. This time we called the university maintenance department. The technican did the same thing I did to start the furnace and the same thing happened. He came flying up the stairs and made everyone get out of the house. Again, nothing happened, the furnace was running and we went back to work. It turned out that the problem was a cracked electrode on the ignition. That was the last time I tried to start an oil furnace.
Much of the small town where the university was located was heated with coal. I think oil heat was preferable to coal. A “modern” coal furnace back then had a stoker that fed the coal into the furnace with an auger. The stoker came on when the thermostat called for heat, but the temperature wasn’t very even.


My friend in Cedar Rapids owned a house that had been built for coal heat. It had a natural gas furnace now, of course, and he had bricked up the coal chute. It was built for unforced air, thus had foot-diameter ducts. It also had a stove in the basement to heat water for the wash. The house had plumbing for gas lights.


The house we lived in as a kid had a coal bin, but converted to tool and paint storage at some point when the natural gas floor heater went in. No duct work, just the registers to the upper floor. I had a habit of standing on the thing to get warmed up but seemed to do the job anyway of heating the house.


@RandomTroll The houses we lived in until I was 9 were heated by coal. The first house my parents owned in Western Illinois had plumbing for gas lights. The rental house we lived in when we moved to eastern Indiana was also plumbed for gas lights. In both houses, the brackets for the gas lights were still on the wall.
The house my parents bought in eastern Indiana originally had a coal furnace. My parents were able to finally get a gas heating permit and a gas conversion burner was installed in the furnace.
I also remember riding from Western Illinois to New York City and back in trains pulled by steam locomotivesfired by coal. I also remember the soot from these locomotives that infiltrated the house when we lived near the railroad tracks. The diesel-electric locomotives were a welcome replacement for the coal fired steam locomotives.
Coal fired home heating systems used to be the standard in my community. Now I don’t think one can even buy a ton or two of coal and have it delivered.


Taxes also factor into the higher costs for diesel fuel. The federal tax on diesel fuel is 6 cents more than gasoline per gallon (24.4 cents versus 18.4 cents). The last tax increase came in the early 90s, when diesel fuel generally cost less than gasoline .