The practice of heating with diesel might seem ludicrous to many with the current fuel prices. However, Hungary has capped the price of fuel at HUF 480 (EUR 1.14). The cheap price of fuel revives the old practice of oil heating in the country. For many, this is an alternative to using natural gas where electrical heating is not possible or burning firewood is inconvenient.
The increased natural gas prices have awoken the ingenuity of people. For those families who exceed the discounted volume of natural gas, there are a few alternatives to heat. They could either use firewood or electrical heating. Firewood is inconvenient for many because it requires more attention and preparation. Electrical heating would be an option, but there are two problems: Electricity prices are also high and the obsolete electrical infrastructure of old houses prevents their usage.
Until the ’90s, oil stoves were very popular, but nowadays you cannot buy paraffin to operate these. Yet many households still have them and now they are bringing them back to life. In the ’90s, there was a practice called oil bleaching, where people bought cheap household oil to use as fuel for their cars. Now, this is the same situation but in reverse, according to G7.hu. This was a big deal back then because estimates of the ’80s said that around 2 million oil stoves were in use. However, this practice was still prevalent almost until the turn of the Millenium.
It is obvious that when the same product has two very different prices people will abuse the situation. The bleaching term comes from the time when authorities coloured household oil red to make the difference obvious between regular fuel and household fuel. However, this colouring could easily be undone so the household oil got its original yellowish colour back.
Today, the situation is different because household oil cannot be bought anymore. However, natural gas prices have risen and now it is cheaper to use diesel as household oil. This practice will not be widespread, but it is very efficient for those who still possess an old oil stove. As one litre of diesel has almost the same heating value as a cubic metre of natural gas we can easily calculate which is better. Currently, one litre of diesel costs HUF 480 (EUR 1.14) while a cubic metre of natural gas costs HUF 747 (EUR 1.77).
in spite of the limit on how much fuel a person can buy each day, this practice still might be worth it for some. The question is rather how many people still have these stoves? Also, it might be a little problematic to gather the diesel from the tank of the car too. This time, we will probably not see the scale of cheating we witnessed in the ’80s and ’90s.