Chlorodifluoromethane, is a hydro chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) and often referred to as R-22. This colorless gas is commonly used as a refrigerant in many AC systems and now faces a gradual phasing out of use due to its ozone depleting potential. The Montreal Protocol of 1987 instituted a slow phase out of R-22 and the United States pledged its participation in the eventual elimination of the refrigerant. January 1, 2015 saw the US reduce its use of HCFCs by 90% and January 1, 2030 will see the complete eradication of the chemical’s use.
How homeowners are affected
Many HVAC systems manufactured before 2010 still use the R-22 refrigerant. The Environmental Protection Agency has accommodated for the slow phase out of R-22 in an effort to help homeowners alleviate the financial impact of purchasing an entirely new system. While full implementation of the ban will not occur until 2030, homeowners today may still see immediate cost impacts on systems still utilizing R-22. Higher replacement costs will arise due to dwindling supplies of the refrigerant. Most homeowners will not need to consider the cost of R-22 unless their system begins to leak. However, as the final phase out date draws closer, the cost of R-22 will continue to rise at increasing rates.
Next steps and considerations for homeowners
There are a number of next steps and alternatives homeowners can take depending on their budgetary concerns or need to replace a system entirely. These include:
- Diligent maintenance of existing R-22 systems ($): If the costs of replacing a unit entirely will be a great burden, homeowners should remember the importance of proper and regular system maintenance. Also consider that the average lifetime of an HVAC system is approximately 8 to 12 years. As a unit approaches its retirement age, consider a savings plan that will help set aside the money necessary to replace the system entirely.
- Replacement of components and refrigerants ($$): While not as costly as an entire system replacement, major repairs will still set homeowners back a considerable amount. The R-22 refrigerant can be removed from a system and replaced with an acceptable coolant, but other components of the system will need to be replaced as well. Some newer, more environmentally friendly refrigerants require different operating pressures and therefore require new condenser and coil components in order to work properly. Consider the age of an air conditioning unit before implementing this option.
- Complete system replacement ($$$): This tends to be the most costly possibility for homeowners. However, this option completely addresses any concern regarding the phase out of R-22 and provides homeowners with advanced air conditioning technology that not only helps the environment but their bottom line as well. Newer air conditioning technologies can reduce the required energy costs for the system upwards of 15-25%.
The eventual ban of R-22 is a good move for the environment and will help homeowners implement air conditioning technology that lowers utility costs as well. If you are considering how to address the R-22 ban and have questions, please feel free to call our team of HVAC professionals. In Port St. Lucie, call (772) 398-0023 and call (772) 220-1496 in Martin County to answer all your R-22 ban and new installation questions. We’re here to help.