The Phase-out of R-22 Refrigerant and How it Affects You
R-22 Freon (also called HCFC-22 Freon) is known to add to the depletion of the ozone layer. As such, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been restricting its use as of late with the intent of 100% phase-out by 2020. But what does this mean for you? Well, if you have an older HVAC unit, quite a lot, actually. Older AC units use R-22 as their refrigerant and if these systems require a repair or additional refrigerant in the next few years (or after 2020), it will be increasingly difficult to come by.
By law, R-22 is being replaced with R-410A, which is considered a safer material for the environment. Because R-22 will no longer be manufactured in the near future, homeowners will have a decision to make regarding their AC units: Salvage older units for refrigerant (which will only become increasingly more expensive as demand grows) or replace the cooling system with one that is compliant with all federal refrigerant regulations.
It’s not necessary to go out and buy a new system today or even in the next couple of years. But, it’s important to know the facts if you’re deciding between costly repairs on an older system that uses R-22 or purchasing a new one that uses R-410A.
There are a few things to keep in mind when making this decision:
- You can use AC systems past 2020 that utilize R-22, but will not be able to find replacement refrigerant as easily because you will need to acquire it through after-market sales rather than through your AC technician.
- The increased demand and decrease in availability of R-22 will very quickly raise the prices of this now inexpensive refrigerant over the next few years.
- Eventually, a complete system replacement (to one that uses R-410A) will be the most inexpensive solution.