Freon (R-22) Ban and How It Affects Your Air Conditioner



Until a few years ago, many air conditioners sold in the United States used the refrigerant chlorodifluoromethane, usually referred to “R-22.” R-22 is one of a number of gases marketed under the brand name Freon, and has been commonly used as a coolant in air conditioners, heat pumps, and other appliances.

R-22 is an extremely effective coolant, which made it popular among HVAC manufacturers for many years. However, it was discovered that its causes damage to the ozone layer, and that it is also a powerful greenhouse gas. This is why, in 1987, the United States agreed to an international accord that would call for the reduction of HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbon) production, beginning in 2004. R-22 is one of the products affected by this agreement.

 

Obtaining R-22 for air conditioner servicing is extremely costly, and will soon become impossible.

Enforced reduction of the use of R-22 began in 2004, and in 2010 its use was banned in new HVAC systems. However, R-22 has continued to be produced since then in order to service existing air conditioners. Soon, this will no longer be the case.

In 2015, the next step in the R-22 phaseout plan was triggered, further reducing the permitted production and import of R-22. As a consequence, prices have quadrupled. This will only get worse, as the EPA’s final phasedown schedule for R-22 indicates that production and import of the coolant will be completely banned as of 2020.

For homeowners whose air conditioners and heat pumps use R-22, this raises the question, “What are my choices?” These options can be broken down as follows:

Hold off on HVAC replacement or upgrade for a few years.

You can simply wait for a few years. However, if your cooling system requires replacement of its R-22 supply in the meantime, it may cost you dearly. We currently charge more than $600 to fully recharge an air conditioner with R-22 (plus the cost of removing contaminants from the system), and full expect this cost to rise in the future. In a few years, it may cost thousands of dollars.

Upgrade your system to use a modern coolant.

The EPA has approved several new coolants, the most popular of which is R-410A, commonly marked under the brand name Puron. However, you can’t just pour R-410A into a cooling system that uses R-22. Some of the system’s parts will have to be replaced. In addition, while your system can be adapted to work with R-410A, you likely won’t see the same level of performance as before, resulting in higher energy bills.

Replace your HVAC system with a new EPA-friendly system.

The most advisable option is to simply replace your existing air conditioner or heat pump with a new system that is designed to use R-410A, or other permitted coolants. While this is the most costly option in the short term, the simple fact is that the other two options may well cost you more in the long run, and then you’ll have to replace your system anyways!

This is why Gilmore strongly advises that you replace your air conditioner or heat pump now. Replacing your system eliminates the risk of having to pay a fortune for R-22 replacement in a few years, or paying higher energy bills for the next several years due to reduced performance.

It really is the best time to replace your HVAC system, and as a bonus, you will immediately begin to enjoy savings on your energy bill! If you’d like to learn more about how replacing your air conditioner or heat pump can save you money, call the experts at Gilmore Heating & Air!

Save $250 Off of a New Air Conditioner!

Avoid future price hikes for replacing the R-22 in your old air conditioner by upgrading your system today! Click on the image below for an easy-to-print coupon entitling you to $250 off of a new A/C system from Gilmore Heating & Air, or click on this link for a PDF with a summary of the above information, and a copy of our coupon. But don’t wait too long, this offer expires at the end of 2016!