R-22 Coolant Phase Out Beginning in 2020
Keeping your house or apartment cool is of the utmost importance, especially as temperatures rise across most of the country. With heat waves increasing in duration and intensity, having a place to cool off can make life a lot easier and more comfortable for people living in the hottest places. Air conditioners are a part of life in many homes, apartments, and commercial spaces; having them provides comfort and helps keep us safe during the hottest months.
Some new changes to regulations regarding the R-22 refrigerant used in some older air conditioning units may affect your repair costs as well as how well your AC is able to work with these new regulations. Denver’s Best Heating and AC Repair can help you understand these changes, help you repair your existing AC unit, and work to install a new unit in your space if needed.
What is R-22?
Most AC units and some other machinery that requires refrigerant chemicals use a substance called R-22. R-22, or Freon, is a refrigerant that was used in the coils of residential air conditioning units for many years. In 2020 the Environmental Protection Agency, or the EPA, is halting the production of R-22 in the United States. It will also be illegal to import R-22 from anywhere else.
R-22 has been banned because it contains chlorine and other chemicals that have been found to harm the ozone layer. In order to curb some of this environmental damage, the EPA has stopped the production of R-22. Unfortunately, this means that some people have to find an alternate refrigerant to use in their air conditioning unit. Supply of R-22 is also in high demand now that there is no more being made or imported.
The Cost of R-22
As R-22 will cease to be manufactured or imported in 2020, the demand for the existing supply of R-22 has gone up. Although it will be illegal as of January 1st, 2020, to manufacture or import R-22, you don’t have to get rid of your existing unit that uses R-22 if you don’t want to. However, you may find that your AC repair bill has increased because of the increasing cost of R-22.
Costs fluctuate based on the supply and demand in your area. Recently, consumers have found that R-22 could cost on the average of $200/lb; when an AC unit could hold up to as much as eight lbs of R-22, this can mean a much higher repair cost than people are expecting based on their past experiences.
What are Your Options?
There are a few options when it comes to dealing with these changes.
1. Retrofit your existing AC unit.
Some, but not all, air conditioning units can be retrofitted to take a different refrigerant that is a substitute for R-22. If your air conditioner uses R-22, ask your contractor whether or not there is an option to retrofit your unit to use a different refrigerant. If your unit is not at the end of its working life, this may give you a little bit more time to consider getting a new unit in the future.
Many new units use a refrigerant called R-410, but units that currently use R-22 aren’t able to be retrofitted to use R-410. Using a substitute chemical may void the warranty on your AC unit. Contractors are working with manufacturers to see what their policies are on this issue.
2. Continue using R-22.
If your unit uses R-22 and isn’t at the end of it’s working life yet, you might find that continuing to use R-22 is the path you want to take. Be prepared for increasing repair bills and fluctuating costs of R-22.
3. Install a new unit.
If your air conditioner is nearing the end of its working life, this may be a good time to consider your other options. On average, AC units last about 10-15 years before needing to be replaced. Most units that use R-22 are nearing the end of their recommended life spans, so it may be time to upgrade to a new AC unit in your home.
New units use better, more environmentally friendly refrigerant chemicals to keep your AC going. These refrigerant options aren’t in high demand and are less expensive than R-22 because they are freely available and are becoming the new normal.
You can keep your current AC unit working to the best of its ability by having it regularly maintained. Denver’s Best Heating and AC Repair technicians recommend a twice-yearly maintenance check- once before the summer, when your AC will be running, and once before the cold weather sets in, to check the functionality of your heating system.
Additionally, be sure to keep your air filters clean, as dirty air filters can cause your system to work harder and wear down quicker. These simple fixes can mean savings in terms of repair bills and general maintenance costs. These small steps can mean that you’re able to stay at your perfect temperature all year round.
This regular maintenance on your AC unit can help keep it working as well as possible and catch any problems before they become AC emergencies. Denver’s Best Heating and AC Repairs is available for regular maintenance checks as well as emergency repairs all throughout the year.
Denver’s Best Heating and AC Repair
Denver’s Best Heating and AC Repair has a team of experts who can help keep you cool while navigating the switch from R-22 to other refrigerants. Our team of experts can assess the working condition of your current AC unit, advise you on potential repairs or problem spots, and assist you with choosing a new AC unit to fit your needs.