Do you have an HVAC system that was installed in 2010 or earlier? If so….this information applies to you.
If your HVAC system was installed in 2010 or before, it most likely uses a chemical coolant called “R22”. R22 is an air conditioning refrigerant, commonly called ‘Freon’ that has been widely used in residential heating and cooling since its introduction in the 1950’s. Air conditioners operate using chemical coolants like R22/Freon inside coils. Air is cooled by being blown over these frosty coils and comes out icy cold. As your system ages and experiences normal wear and tear, your coils may leak or break, and the coolant will need to be refilled or replaced. Since R22 is widely used and readily available, this has not been an issue.
The bad news is that after decades of use, it turns out that R22 is EXTREMELY bad for the environment and is ripping our ozone layer apart! In an effort to save our ozone, the EPA, together with agencies and groups around the world, have enacted agreements to phase out its use, specifically the “Montreal Protocol”. This global agreement, finalized in 1987, is designed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances such as R22. It has been in effect since 2003, and by 2010 all production and consumption of R22 became prohibited BUT servicing current, existing equipment is still permitted, as long as there is an available supply of R22. Homeowners who had HVAC systems that used R22 (and their HVAC service providers) have been able to repair and maintain these systems due to a preexisting supply of R22. That is about to change. The next phase of the Montreal Protocol calls for the production and import of R22 to be continually reduced by law until 2020, when all production and import will be eliminated.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME?
Quite simply, the freon that keeps your AC blowing cool air is about to be unavailable anywhere in the marketplace. Today, the cost of R22 is dramatically increasing because of the declining supply. Options for licensed professionals to service units installed before 2020 will become more and more expensive. Until 2020, customers will spend more and more on service/upkeep on HVAC units that use R22.
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
There is an alternative that the HVAC industry is turning to. R410a, brand name Puron, is safer, cleaner, and more energy efficient. Homeowners should consider upgrading NOW (before 2020) and taking advantage of HVAC units that use R410a. These systems save consumers hundreds of dollars in energy bills, as well as service costs. Do not try and simply swap out your old R22 for the R410a. Doing so will ruin your unit and will force you into a new unit anyway. The best choice for homeowners is to replace their old system now.
This is a change affecting the entire industry. We are always happy to sit down with a homeowner and discuss the changes outlined here. Professional HVAC firms like ours provide excellent financing options for homeowners to make the most sensible choice for their financial needs. Our best customer is well-informed, and well-educated, in terms of the HVAC market. We add value by making sure we give our customers the most up-to-date and helpful information possible, when it comes to taking care of their homes. The HVAC industry is affected by many factors, from international tariffs to changing rules and regulations, and it is our responsibility, and our pleasure, to pass on this valuable information to our customers. If we can provide our customers with the best information available on the market today, and assist them in making the best choice for their home, we have done our job.