What the R-22 Refrigerant Phaseout May Mean for Your Home’s Cooling System

R-22 Refrigerant

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is helping the HVAC industry and consumers move to a more environmentally-friendly refrigerant. By 2020, we’re done with R-22 refrigerant, often known by its proprietary name Freon, and moving to R410A. This is being touted as the “refrigerant of the future” because it’s chlorine-free and therefore poses no ozone threat to the environment.  

Nearly 80 percent of residential air conditioners in the United States rely on R-22. If your home is one of those in the majority, your system can still be serviced. Have a leaky coil? No problem; we can still gas up your system with the R-22 refrigerant. But supply has been erratic and prices for R-22 have been increasing—sharply.

Eventually all R-22 refrigerant systems will need to be replaced for a more efficient and environmentally-friendly R401A system. Before going for that expensive R-22 juice up, it may be time to consider a system upgrade, since it will need to be replaced eventually anyway. It may be worthwhile to put those dollars toward a new R410A system now and start enjoying the benefits that come with it.

One benefit of a new air conditioner is the improved energy efficiency. Purchasing an Energy Star-certified unit with an efficiency in the 90th percentile could significantly cut your monthly utility bills if you’ve been relying on an older unit.

I’ve had some clients ask, “But Scott, can’t I just change out the air handler?” I don’t recommend it, and here’s why. Unfortunately, the two refrigerants aren’t interchangeable, so an indoor unit running on R-22, for example, just won’t work with an outdoor unit using R-410A.

We at Scott’s Heating & Air Conditioning have been doing a lot of system change-outs lately. We recommend replacing both your air handler and condenser when you’re ready to convert to R-410A, so you can start enjoying the efficiency and cost savings on your power bill that come with it.

No one would blame you if this “phase out” and “change out” business has you a bit confused. That’s why now’s the time to call Scott’s. We’ll evaluate your system and present you with all the options.

Image via Shutterstock.com

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