The cooling cycle of an air conditioner needs a refrigerant to function properly. Without a refrigerant, your air conditioner won’t cool your home and keep you comfortable. CFCs or chlorofluorocarbons were the first refrigerants used to cool air conditioners and refrigerators in the good old days. But the negative environmental impact of these refrigerants made them obsolete before long. Then came the HCFCs or R22 class of refrigerants. R22 is commercially known as Freon. In fact, R22 was successfully used as the most common refrigerant in HVAC-R systems for many decades. That is due to the numerous benefits of the substance. But the latest research on them showed that HCFCs too were environmentally damaging similar to its predecessors – CFCs. The Montreal Protocol of 1987 decided to phase out all ozone-depleting substances which included R22 and other HCFCs. This article provides information on the impact of the phasing out of R22 on consumers.
R22 or Freon is an HCFC that has been used for many decades due to the many advantages offered by the substance. It is compatible with almost all HVAC-R systems out there. On the other hand, R22 will reduce the electricity consumption of your HVAC-R system and help save money over time. But there is one main problem with continuing to use R22 – it damages the ozone layer of the planet. In fact, the ozone layer plays an important part in protecting life on the planet from being exposed to the harmful effects of the UV rays of the sun. UV rays cause various cancers including skin cancer. On the other hand, they affect marine life on the planet. That is why R22 has been categorized as an ODS or ozone-depleting-substance. The substance will be phased out on a stage by stage basis. The first and second stages have already been completed. In fact, R22 is not being used in new HVAC-R systems from 2010 onwards. The production and importation of the substance have been cut down by at least 75% today. Hence, the price of a pound of R22 has risen to almost $100 whereas a pound of an alternative refrigerant remains at $15-20. This is the main impact on the consumer due to the phasing out of R22 or Freon. The price hike will affect the consumer since he or she won’t be able to rely on R22 or Freon anymore.
R22 will be severely restricted from January 2020. You won’t be able to find R22 even for servicing your existing HVAC-R systems after this date. That is why it is important to take appropriate actions to guarantee your comfort before this day. If not, you may not be able to refill your HVAC system when there is a refrigerant leak. A refrigerant leak is the most common way to lose the refrigerant from your HVAC system. Regular maintenance will help keep your AC in good working condition for some time to come. That way you don’t have to worry about the phasing out of R22 or Freon. But if you have a refrigerant leak or an old air conditioner system, you may have to invest a huge amount of money in purchasing R22 for your system. Hence, you should implement an effective preventive maintenance schedule to keep your HVAC-R system in good condition for some time to come.
The Supply And Demand Situation
The price to repair an HVAC-R system that uses R22 or Freon has risen exponentially. That is due to the production and importation of the substance have been severely curtailed today. The substance is supposed to be 100% banned in January 2020. The demand for R22 has completely outweighed the supply. That is why the price has risen to over $100 per pound within the last couple of months. In fact, suppliers who have stocked the substance are taking advantage of the supply and demand situation to raise the price of R22.
Repairing Existing Systems
If you still use a system that runs on R22, you should be very careful with the unit. It is better that you implement an effective preventive maintenance plan in order to see that there is no refrigerant leak. If there is a leak by any chance, you will have to pay an exorbitant price to purchase a pound of R22. That is where the importance of an alternative refrigerant comes in handy. There are so many alternative refrigerants on the market today. These substances are environmentally friendly and don’t deplete the ozone layer of the planet. They are much cheaper compared to R22 or Freon. You can purchase a pound of an alternative refrigerant at $15-20 compared to paying $100 for a pound of R22. That is why you should consider shifting to a new energy-efficient HVAC-R system that uses an energy efficient refrigerant. It will save your money as well as the environment in the long run.
If you are not in a position to invest in a new HVAC system, you can ask your HVAC contractor to refill your existing system with a compatible alternative refrigerant. There are many alternative refrigerants that are compatible with the current HVAC-R systems. That way you won’t have to spend money on replacing the entire HVAC-R system in your home or office. This is one of the best ways of dealing with the complete phasing out of R22 in January 2020. The impact of the phasing out of R22 can be minimized when you take action to either replace the old HVAC system or its refrigerant with an alternative refrigerant that is compatible with R22 systems.
Make sure that you consult a professional HVAC contractor to evaluate the current situation of your HVAC system. They are the best people to advise you on what should be done in order to minimize the impact of phasing out of R22 or Freon in January 2020. That way you will save a lot of time, money, and guarantee the comfort of your loved ones even after R22 is completely phased out in 2020.