A/C Charging is About to Change
Within the next three years, the most common type of refrigerant used in residential and commercial air conditioners (R-22) will be phased out. What does this mean for you and what are the options? How will this affect the cost of repairs to your HVAC system? Do you need to replace or retrofit your unit?
Why The Phase out?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated the phase out of R-22 about 25 years ago as the result of increasing environmental concerns. Production of new A/C units using R-22 ended in 2010. By 2020, servicing R-22 systems will rely solely on recycled or reclaimed refrigerants.
Manufacturers will not be able to produce, and companies will no longer be able to import R-22 for use in new equipment. Industry experts estimate that R-22 should be available for all current systems for the next several years, but as supply diminishes, prices for R-22 charging will continue increase.
What does this mean for my A/C Unit?
If your air conditioner was manufactured before 2010, it probably uses R-22. This means your existing units can continue to be serviced with R-22. There is no EPA requirement for converting these types of units. The best thing you can do now is to properly maintain your unit to prevent leaks. Regular maintenance is far less expensive than emergency repairs.
Retrofits and substitutions
Retrofit units, which are converted R-22 units utilizing a substitute refrigerant, are allowed if the alternative refrigerant is acceptable for that type of use. A retrofit can get you by for several more years. There are also several new types of refrigerants being manufactured to replace R-22. It’s still too early to determine how effective these will be across the market.
The time to invest in a new system is before you’re hit with the high costs of repairing an older system. Take into account the age of your current unit (as a general rule, systems should be older than 10 years);
Today’s new systems are highly energy-efficient systems (Energy-Star), offer cost savings in maintenance and electric costs, and are a ‘green alternative’ to R-22 units. Some manufacturers even offer rebates and tax credits to help offset the cost of new systems.
If you have questions about your unit, need service, or are interested in a new system, please call us at 413-532-3500.