While 2020 will be remembered worldwide for the COVID-19 pandemic, in the A/C industry it’s also the year of R-22.
As of January 1, 2020, it is illegal to produce or import hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC-22). Better known as R-22, it is sometimes referred to by the brand name Freon. R-22 is used in most residential and commercial A/C systems produced before 2010.
To help protect the Earth’s ozone layer, the United States began phasing out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the ‘90s. Among other things, CFCs appeared in aerosol propellants like bug spray and paint. Now, by phasing out ozone-depleting HCFCs, which include the common refrigerant R-22, the U.S. hopes to reduce the risk of skin cancer and other health problems by protecting the ozone layer. The layer absorbs ultraviolet (UV) radiation before it reaches Earth’s surface.
In 2010, production ended for new A/C units that used R-22 refrigerant and production of R-22 itself dropped by 75%. In 2015, R-22 production was down 90% and in 2020 it ended.
“Because of the dwindling supply, R-22 has become more expensive,” says Mike Donley, president of Donley AC & Plumbing. “But consumers should be cautious about ads that imply you must buy a new A/C unit. You need to weight the costs of repairing and replacing.”
Donley says owners of older air conditioning units that rely on R-22 have three options:
· Use alternative refrigerants that involve a blend of different types. Technicians must be trained in this method.
· Install a potentially pricey conversion refrigerant.
· Buy a new unit. (The average unit in Arizona lasts 12 to 15 years)
According to the EPA, new energy efficient air conditioners can significantly reduce energy costs. The higher the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER), the more efficient the system. A central air conditioner that’s earned the ENERGY STAR® label is at least 14 percent more efficient than a new standard system.
About Donley AC & Plumbing
Jim and Mike Donley and their employees have been providing honest, caring service to Arizonans since 1976. Family-owned Donley AC & Plumbing has twice been honored with the Better Business Bureau’s Ethics Award. Donley technicians receive ongoing training to provide the most comprehensive service for air conditioning, plumbing, heating, sewer repair, maintenance management and solar hot water. www.donleyservice.com