The Phase-Out of R-22 Refrigerant: Is it Time to Replace Your Home Air Conditioning System?

The Phase-Out of R-22 Refrigerant: Is it Time to Replace Your Home Air Conditioning System?

The facts and details system owners need to know about the R-22 refrigerant phase-out:

If your home has an older HVAC or refrigeration system, then you need to learn about the regulatory changes that are happening which will impact the use of R-22 refrigerant, also known as Freon. New laws will make it illegal to import or manufacture R-22 refrigerant in the United States, and these changes go into effect in January 1st, 2020.

Even though R-22 isn’t illegal yet, we are seeing a dwindling of supply and an increase in demand, which in turn boosts prices. Going rates have been seen at $100 up to $140 per pound from a HVAC companies re-filling leaking systems.  

Will these changes drive up your cost to repair and maintain your refrigerator or HVAC system? As demand goes up, you can anticipate to see rising costs for repair and maintenance on your systems. Once the regulations are in full force in 2020, it will be impossible to repair products that use R-22.  However, despite the cost of R-22, the cost to the Ozone layer is 1,810 times that of Carbon Dioxide.

Why is Freon Being Phased Out?

Experts have known about the dangers of R-22 for many years. But, nothing was done in the past because it was a standard product used for refrigeration and air conditioning. R-22 is an HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbon) gas, which is a substance that has been found to deplete the ozone layer. As the ozone layer is affected by pollution and harmful chemicals, climate change becomes an increasing concern for people around the world.

Since R-22 is impacting climate change, and will continue to do so while systems leak, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working to manage the amount that is available and used. The phase-out plan is the final step that will make R-22 no longer available in the United States.

Keep in mind that the phase-out plan began many years ago, with a schedule that decreased the supply availability each year. In the beginning, the prices increased slowly, so there wasn’t a big impact on repair costs. Now, we are nearing the final ban that will take effect at the beginning of 2020. 

As a result, availability is down, and prices are going up to keep these older systems requiring the refrigerant alive. Even though the industry has known about the phase-out since 2013, we are reaching the critical point when homeowners and business owners need to face the reality of the situation. Production rates have been dropping each year significantly, with a 30% decrease in 2017 and an anticipated 55% decrease in 2018. 

Who Will be Affected By the R-22 Phaseout?

Many homeowners with older systems will be affected, as well as business owners who use commercial refrigeration equipment. We already see changes in the industry, with the prices of R-22 going up based on supply and demand. 

If you own an air conditioning unit or refrigeration system that uses R-22, then you need to make a choice right now: 

  1. Continue using the old system and face expensive repair and maintenance costs in the future- and acknowledge the potential damage your actions can cause to the “Climate Crisis” we’re all potentially facing.

  2. Retrofit your air conditioner to use a different type of cooling product- Drop-in replacement are available, however often not recommended due to the age of the systems already. Drastic changes in performance can occur thus raising energy bills and lowering cooling capacity.

  3. Replace the system with equipment that doesn’t require R-22, to save money in the long-run. Higher SEER rating and High Efficiency Standards can help wash out the cost of replacement if done soon enough. Many companies like EcoZapp offers homeowners financing to help offset the upfront costs and achieve lower monthly payments.

It can be a challenge to face this decision if you aren’t familiar with the industry. The best option is to talk to an experienced HVAC team for personal recommendations which caters to homeowners. 

How Long Will Your Old Air Conditioner Last?

An older air conditioner that is in good condition might last for a few more years without the need to spend money on expensive repairs. It all depends on the quality of your equipment and the anticipated repair schedule in the future. The least expensive option for a short-term solution is to continue using the outdated equipment, as long as it doesn’t need repairs.

If you aren’t planning to upgrade your equipment right away, then you should schedule an inspection with an experienced HVAC team. You need to make sure that the system is less than eight years old, free of leaks, and operating well. Systems that meet these requirements could last for awhile without the need for more refrigerant.  

But, you never know when a refrigerant leak could happen. Even a small amount of corrosion on the equipment could lead to an unexpected leak. You will have the option to add more refrigerant through the end of 2019, although you should expect an expensive repair bill due to the high cost of R-22. Your repair bills will get more and more expensive as the deadline in January 2020 approaches, and then after many repairs many not always be possible or cost effective. 

Emergency or Planned Replacement of a Home Air Conditioner

Eventually, your air conditioner will need to be replaced. You can wait until an emergency situation occurs, and then replace the system because the repair options are no longer available. If you delay the replacement of the system, then you could be facing the heat of the Summer while you wait for the equipment to be ordered and an installation team that has time to put a new system in your home. 

Instead of procrastinating the inevitable, why not replace the system right now? You will save money on the maintenance and repair costs in the future. Choose the installation at a time that fits your schedule, helping to minimize the discomfort of a problematic air conditioning system. Save the money that you would have spent on repairs and invest those funds into a new air conditioner instead.

Is a Retrofit Worth the Expense?

New refrigerants have been developed so that older systems can be retrofitted. This solution isn’t an option for all equipment. But, some systems can be converted if you don’t want to replace the entire system. It is important that you understand the potential risks of a retrofit.

Yes, you can delay the costs of replacing the system by choosing the retrofit option. But, it is likely that the cooling capacity of your air conditioner will be decreased. This underperformance will cause your utility costs to go up because the air conditioner won’t offer the same cooling benefits that were available before the retrofit.

Not only will your monthly utility expenses go up, but the retrofitting also voids your warranty. If something goes wrong with the equipment, then you will bear the burden of paying for the repair costs.

In most situations, a retrofit isn’t worth the cost. Instead of spending money on retrofitting services, save the cash to invest in a new air conditioner. You will save money in the long-run and have the peace of mind to know that you have a quality HVAC system installed in your home or office.

Why a New Air Conditioning System is the Best Solution

There’s no question that all air conditioning systems using R-22 will need to be retrofitted or replaced in just a few years. Instead of delaying the inevitable, it makes sense to take the leap and invest in the right equipment as soon as possible. Since the EPA has prohibited the manufacturing of air conditioning systems that use R-22, you can rest assured to know that your upgraded equipment will use alternative refrigerants.

Even though you will spend money on the upfront cost of installing a new system, there are undeniable benefits to an air conditioning system upgrade:

  • Avoid Expensive Emergency Repairs: When an old air conditioning system needs to be repaired or maintained, you can expect that it will be a high repair bill. As the cost of R-22 goes up, so will your bill. Installing a new A/C will eliminate your worries about these expensive repair costs.

  • Installation on Your Schedule: If an emergency happens and your air conditioning system needs to be replaced, you could be waiting for awhile before an installation team is available. It is anticipated that the demand for HVAC installation will go up as all homeowners face the same problems. As a result, availability will be limited. Instead, order a new system right now so that you can be proactive in choosing the time when the A/C is replaced. You can plan the installation to eliminate the risk that you will be stuck in the heat of the summer without a functioning air conditioner.

  • Reduce Utility Costs: Technology has come a long way in recent years, offering incredible energy efficiency options for homeowners and business owners. Even though you will spend money on the new system, you will recover a portion of your investment costs. Lower utility bills decrease your monthly expenses, and those savings add up over time. If your system is more than eight years old, you can expect a substantial change in your utility expenses.

  • Improved Climate Control: Upgrading your HVAC system is an easy way to improve the comfort of your home or office. You will have more control over the indoor temperatures, without worrying about the fluctuations that occur with old air conditioning systems.

Do you want to enjoy these benefits? Then it is probably best to replace the air conditioning system right now, instead of delaying the installation for the future.

Evaluating Your Equipment (And Budget)

How do you know if your air conditioner will be affected by the decreasing availability of R-22? You need to take a look at the type of equipment you are using and the age of the equipment. You might be able to look up the model number to find more information online. Or, call the manufacturing company to get information about your unit. But, if you want a fast, effective way to learn more, then you need to talk to a local expert in the industry.

Not only do you need to consider the quality of your equipment and potential repair costs in the future, but you also need to consider your budget. Look at the cost of installing a new system right now and compare the price with the long-term costs of maintaining an older system.

Every situation is unique, which is why you need to evaluate your equipment and budget before rushing to conclusions. At the same time, it is important to be informed that you will need to make changes if you are currently using an older air conditioning system.

ROI of Upgrading Now

Any time you spend money on home repairs or upgrades, you need to consider the Return on Investment (ROI) for the money that is spent. Learn about HVAC upgrades, and you will see the ROI that is available for your investment.

You can expect three financial benefits of upgrading right now:

  1. Lower utility bills by installing an energy efficient system

  2. Avoid repairs that require expensive R-22

  3. Increase the value of your home or office, helping to build equity for the future

At the same time, you will feel good to know that you are doing your part to reduce the impact of climate change. Eliminating a Freon-based air conditioner reduces the HCFC chemicals that are released into the atmosphere. You can’t put a price tag on the benefits that come from protecting our planet for future generations.

Planning Ahead for the R-22 Phase Out: Are You Ready?

Now that you know the upcoming changes in the HVAC industry, you have the opportunity to decide on the right phase-out plan for your home or office. The next step is to talk to an HVAC contractor that offers a phase-out strategy, helping you avoid the rising costs of air conditioner repair. 

Right now is the time to take action. You need to talk to an experienced HVAC repair and installation team to find out if your system needs to be replaced. This conversation will help you develop a custom plan that will match your needs… and your budget.

The EcoZapp Difference in Home Air Conditioning Service & Replacement A/C Systems

Our team at EcoZapp A/C Efficiency is always here to answer your questions. We are proactive in keeping up with the changes in the HVAC industry, ensuring that our customers are educated about the options that are available. 

We offer a full range of services that include maintenance, repairs, and installation of energy efficient air conditioning units. By focusing on customer service and top-notch quality, we offer unbeatable results for our customers. 

Hopefully, you found this guide to be an effective resource to help you learn more about the R-22 phase-out. For more information, we invite you to contact us to schedule a consultation. We will provide a free ROI report, helping you see if a new HVAC system is a good financial decision for your family.