Most air conditioning systems in the United States use R22 Freon, an industry-standard refrigerant. Until recently, R22 Freon was plentiful, inexpensive, and readily available for recharging air conditioning systems with waning cooling capacity. This has begun to change, however, and indications are that R22 Freon will become enormously expensive until it is no longer available in 2020.
The U.S. government has determined that R22 Freon, sometimes known as HCFC-22 Freon, is harmful to the environment because it contributions to ozone depletion. The Clean Air Act, administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, requires that R22 Freon must be eliminated by the year 2020. At this time, it will no longer be manufactured and can no longer be used as a refrigerant in air conditioning systems. R22 Freon must be replaced by the safer R410A Freon, which will become the standard refrigerant in air conditioning systems.
As a homeowner with a functioning air conditioning system, this regulatory requirement leaves you facing two expensive prospects. First, the cost of R22 Freon has begun to rise and is expected to continue increasing as the 2020 deadline approaches. By the time the cut-off date arrives, R22 Freon will likely be extraordinarily expensive.
Second, most existing air conditioners cannot use R410A Freon. This means that the majority of air conditioners in use in 2012 — as many as 80 percent of them — will need to be completely replaced. This leaves most American homeowners with the choice of spending thousands of dollars for new equipment or being left without a home cooling system entirely.
Now may be a good time to replace your existing air conditioner with a high-efficiency model that uses R410A Freon. High-efficiency air conditioners can be an expensive investment, but keep in mind that they offer monthly savings on cooling expenses that can be large enough to almost pay for the new system by the 2020 deadline.
Detmer & Sons, Inc. has been providing quality heating and cooling services to Dayton and the surrounding area for more than 30 years. We can help you decide if you should continue to use R22 freon or update to a new system.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about R22 freon and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.