R-22 is the refrigerant used to cool the air in many central air conditioning systems or heat pumps… and it’s on the way out. Here’s what you should know about why this change is occurring and how it may impact your home’s air conditioning system.
R-22 is a refrigerant that has commonly been used in air conditioning systems for years. However, because it contains HCFCs, it is harmful to the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mandated a phase-out of new production and import of R-22 by 2020.
In 1987, the international community came together to sign the Montreal Protocol, an agreement aimed at protecting the ozone layer by phasing out the production of substances that are responsible for ozone depletion. These substances include CFCs and HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons).
Are There Alternatives?
Yes, but none work as well. At BGE HOME, we tested and analyzed numerous alternative, or retrofit, refrigerants in an effort to find an acceptable replacement for our customers. Our findings show that more environmentally-friendly refrigerants do not produce the same results. None of the retrofits match the capacity and efficiency of R-22 in all conditions, for all types of HVAC equipment. Further, no single retrofit is compatible with all types of R-22 systems. There is no like-for-like replacement of R-22.
However, options exist that may extend the life of your current system, and we may recommend these alternatives on a case-by-case basis.
Impact on Current HVAC Systems
We are already feeling the impact of the phase-out. Since 2013, the production of new R-22 has been decreasing and in 2020 production will end completely.
This decrease in supply may significantly increase the cost of refrigerant for both HVAC contractors and homeowners. We have seen our cost to purchase R-22 more than triple since 2013. Additionally, this has caused frustration from our customers because a service that was affordable just a few years ago has now tripled in cost.
Although customers do not have to stop using R-22 in their air conditioners now, supplies may be limited and may become more expensive in the years ahead. After 2020, reclaimed and previously-produced R-22 will be used where necessary to service air conditioning systems.
Beginning in January 2010, the EPA prohibited the manufacture and installation of HVAC systems that use R-22. To find out what type of refrigerant your home’s air conditioning system uses, check out this helpful FAQs guide from the EPA.
New HVAC Systems
As your partner in home energy usage, we want to help you maximize the money you invest in your HVAC system. If your system is leaking refrigerant or has needed to be recharged frequently, we recommend considering a replacement. The expense of recharging an R-22 system has already increased, and there’s no way to know how much the costs will increase in the future.
When considering environmental concerns, supply and demand, and government regulations, an upgrade may make sense for your home and budget. If you’re thinking about replacing your heating and air conditioning system now instead of later, contact us. We’ll make sure you find an HVAC system that will meet your family’s comfort needs and help you avoid the rising cost of R-22.