Why Is R-22 Refrigerant Being Phased Out by the EPA & How Will It Affect CA Homeowners?
In September of 1987, with guidance from the world’s foremost climate scientists, the UN adopted the Montreal Protocol, a list of guidelines for every country on Earth to follow to prevent the depletion of the planet’s ozone layer and subsequent environmental damage. It is to date the only UN treaty to have been ratified by all 197 member countries.
Here in the US, the Clean Air Act title=”About the Clean Air Act” was passed to implement a Montreal Protocol-compliant schedule to phase out all use of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) by 2020. Class I ODS, the chemicals that do the most damage to our ozone layer, have already been completely phased out, while Class II ODS are on schedule to be totally phased out in the coming months.
Many homes with older air conditioning systems still use R-22 refrigerant, or Freon, to cool the air. R-22 is a type of Class II ODS called a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) – in fact, R-22 is the most commonly used HCFC in America. Thanks to the guidelines laid out in the Montreal Protocol and the Clean Air Act, no new R-22 equipment has been made by manufacturers since 2010.
How the R-22 Phaseout Is Affecting Coachella Valley Homeowners
If your home has an air conditioner that uses R-22, you’ve probably noticed that your air conditioning repairs involving a recharge (refilling of lost refrigerant due to a leak) have become a lot more expensive. This is because the cost of R-22, has more than quadrupled in the last 10 years and will continue to skyrocket as the refrigerant gets more scarce.
You probably don’t want to keep paying higher and higher prices to keep your air conditioning running, but the good news is: you have options. You can choose to have an alternate refrigerant installed in your air conditioner or replace the unit with one that is designed to use a more environmentally safe refrigerant, R-410a.
Alternate coolants, called drop-in refrigerants, are not ozone depleters and are a less expensive option than replacing your air conditioning unit; however, drop-in refrigerants aren’t a great long-term option. Your AC unit was designed to work with R-22 and using the drop-in alternative will cause your air conditioner to work a lot harder and wear out a lot faster. Hyde’s recommends only using drop-in refrigerants in air conditioners that are over eight years old when you’re going to begin budgeting for a replacement unit.
Replacing Your AC Unit
If your air conditioner is close to 10 years old — and if it uses R-22 it probably is — you’re likely gearing up to have a new AC installed already, so make sure your new system uses R-410a instead of R-22. R-410a cools your house just as efficiently as R-22 but does not threaten Earth’s ozone layer. New air conditioners are also a lot more energy-efficient, so you’ll be protecting the environment in more ways than one!
Have More Questions About The EPA R-22 Phaseout?
If your air conditioning unit uses R-22 and you want to discuss switching to an alternate refrigerant or replacing your AC system, give Hyde’s a call at (760) 360-2202. Our family has served Coachella Valley residents for more than 37 years, and we look forward to serving you!