The refrigerant used in air conditioners is of utmost importance as it is responsible for cooling the air. Even today, many air conditioners use the R-22 refrigerant. However, these AC’s are older than 10 years or even more. Another common name with which R-22 is often referred to as “Freon”. EPA or the Environmental Protection Agency has undertaken to phase out R-22 as it is an HCFC or and hydrochlorofluorocarbon, which is a leading source of causing ozone layer depletion.
The Montreal Protocol – Ban On R-22 Refrigerant
The U.S. EPA, along with many other international agencies and environmental protection groups, commenced a phasing out program for the refrigerant R-22. The understanding was reached under an international pact popularly known as the Montreal Protocol. As a part of the protocol, the use of R-22, along with many other HCFCs and CFCs, was to be completely eliminated.
R-22 Phase-Out Timeline
1. 2003 – The phase-out program for the ban on production and import of R-22 began in full earnest.
2. 2010 – Production and import of R-22 were prohibited entirely. One could service equipment only if the banned refrigerant were still available from the old supply. To demand compliance from the public, the refrigerant could only be purchased by a certified technician. Manufacturing and installation of AC’s and heat pumps using R-22 refrigerant became illegal.
3. 2020 – All import and production of R-22 refrigerant will be completely eliminated. Only recycled R-22 could be used for servicing the old air conditioners and heating systems.
The Effect Of Ban On R-22 Refrigerant Prices
The supply and demand laws came into practice with the ban on R-22 refrigerant. Initially, there was an abundant supply, so the price was not very high. As the ban came into practice, the R-22 prices started increasing because there was no new supply. People had to make do with what was already made. Only an EPA certified technician is allowed to buy the banned refrigerant, and so homeowners could no more purchase it. With strict regulations on how the R-22 refrigerant could be recycled, the further price increase was but natural.
How It Affects You?
In today’s date, repair and maintenance of old air conditioners are itself very costly due to non-availability or limited availability of spare parts. Add to that the exponential increase in the cost of recycled R-22 refrigerant; it is no more practical or financially viable to maintain an outdated AC.
The sensible thing to do is to upgrade to an AC that uses current technology. At least you will be able to save on not only energy costs but also get more value for money in terms of its useful product life. At Aztil AC, we strongly recommend the upgrade to escape the expense of maintaining an outdated AC using R-22 refrigerant.
What Refrigerant Does Your AC Use?
If your AC was installed prior to 2010, it is a given that it uses R-22 refrigerant. If you are amongst the lucky ones and your AC was installed after 1 Jan 2010, it is most likely that your AC uses R410a and not the banned R-22. Nonetheless, always check the information instead of assuming. You can easily locate this data on the nameplate of your appliance or in the booklet or instruction manual provided with your appliance. If you are still unable to find this small but valuable piece of information, look it up on Google. You are sure to find all your answers there.
Use Puron instead Of Freon
Using Puron or R410a is a better option than R-22 refrigerant. R410a has a higher safety rating, and it also performs better on energy efficiency. Switching your current equipment from R-22 to R410a is not as easy as it sounds. It is mainly because this switch will render the manufacturer’s warranty null and void. Also, the switch will demand the changing of certain parts to make the equipment compatible with the new refrigerant. If you are willing to introduce these many changes, well and good. But if not, consider buying a new system that does not use R-22 refrigerant.
What To Do If Your AC Uses R-22 Refrigerant?
If your AC uses the banned R-22 refrigerant, you have 3 options at your disposal-
1. Continue using the old AC and pay the hefty price for the repairs, maintenance, and topping up the R-22 refrigerant with the recycled one.
2. Make the switch from R-22 to R410a and also change the necessary parts to make your system compatible. Remember, in doing so, the manufacturer’s warranty will become void.
3. Upgrade to a heating and cooling system that uses current technology as it will automatically not use Freon or R-22.
Can I Still Use R-22 Refrigerant?
Yes, you can still use R-22 refrigerant, but only that which is reclaimed and recycled as per the laws. Also, bear the following points in mind:
1. R-22 is now extremely costly and not half as readily available. You may struggle to find it timely whenever the need arises.
2. Only an EPA certified technician can buy recycled R-22 for your air conditioner.
3. R-22 depletes the ozone layer and is not safe for you, your family, and the environment. Since you live in a society, it is your civic duty to keep your environment safe.
4. Air conditioners using R-22 are old models that have been replaced with more environment-friendly and energy-efficient models.
Does The Law Make It Mandatory To Buy A New System?
The regulation is only on the production and use of R-22. The law does not dictate that you need to buy a new air conditioning unit. You are, therefore, not breaking any laws by continuing to use your old unit. When your AC quits working for good, you will have no other option than upgrading to an environment-friendly and energy-efficient unit. At that time, you will automatically stop using a system that uses R-22.
People using old ACs may find it to be a tough and stressful decision deciding between continuing to use their old AC or upgrading to a better one. No matter what you choose, keep the fact in mind that there are generations yet to live a fruitful life on our beautiful Earth. But, it is possible only if you become environmentally conscious and for once do something good for our planet and not your finances. You will be pleasantly surprised at how the small step will save you tremendously in the coming years, both financially and healthwise.