R22 Phase Out Brings Big Changes

Even minor changes to our environment can mean big changes for homeowners. One of these changes involves your HVAC system. Specifically, the refrigerant that flows through many existing HVAC systems isn’t considered safe for the environment by the EPA. Back in the 1970s, the EPA determined that R22, commonly known as Freon, was partly responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer. In addition, Freon also has a high global warming potential. Because of the combined risk of global warming and ozone layer depletion, the EPA started implementing changes to protect the environment.

The international committees that tracked environmental changes recommended that Freon, along with many other ozone-depleting chemicals, be phased out of production. Nearly 90% of the common uses of Freon, such as being used as propellants in aerosol cans, have already been phased out of use. 110 million pounds of Freon were in available supply in the United States in 2010. In 2013, the available supply was down to only around 39 million. This year supplies may drop to 13 million pounds. The trend will continue until the year 2020 when Freon will be completely phased out and all production will cease.

What this means for homeowners is that all the refrigerant servicing needs of your Freon systems in 2020 and beyond will depend on an existing and rapidly depleting stockpile of Freon. The consequences to homeowners will be very high prices for Freon until the stockpile runs out and replacement equipment is the only good option for an R22 system that is leaking or has any repair needs that involve the refrigerant circuit.

New HVAC systems use a blended refrigerant called R410A, this gas cannot be retrofitted into an older R22 unit. The new earth-friendly refrigerant does not contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer. R410A HVAC systems can be retrofitted onto existing refrigerant lines in most cases and the behavior of R410a in HVAC systems keeps efficiency high and energy use low. R410A will be the industry standard refrigerant for residential HVAC systems and will be in ready supply at a reasonable cost if future service is required.

Most homeowners need an experienced, reliable HVAC technician to inspect their existing system and offer a professional recommendation, based on age, maintenance and future repair costs. Basing your R22 system replacement decision on the advice of the experts will bring you peace of mind. At Berkeys, we’re ready to help you make the most of your HVAC system.