May 29, 2012
If you get an air conditioning tune-up every summer, as we recommend, you may notice that topping of your system’s refrigerant costs much more this year.
It’s not an effort on the part of the heating and cooling company to make more money, it’s a result of government regulation.
R-22 is the refrigerant that is being phased out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. government. R-22 contains HCFC’s (hydrochloroflouorocarbons), which erode the ozone layer and contribute to global warming, according to the EPA.
In an effort to improve the environment, the Clean Air Act was passed by the U.S. government and implemented by the EPA. One of the provisions of the act is that the production and use of R-22 will be gradually phased out.
Beginning January 1, 2010, R-22 can only be used to service existing equipment and the production of the gas must be reduced by 75%. Equipment produced after this date was to use alternative refrigerants.
Due to vague language in the act, however, new air conditioners and heat pumps requiring R-22 were still manufactured. With the same demand and a decreased supply, the economic laws tell us that the price will go nowhere but up.
And it has. The R-22 refrigerant used in a majority of Florida home air conditioning systems has jumped from $40 per pound to $80-$100 per pound. And the price is only predicted to increase. With a typical refill of refrigerant using about 5-10 gallons, this price jump can really add up quickly for you.
Depending on the age and condition of your air conditioner or heat pump, you have a couple of options to help offset this price increase.
If your air conditioner is 8-10 years old it may be time to replace it. Older units tend to leak more refrigerant and require more repairs. Upgrade to a new system that uses the replacement refrigerant R-410A to avoid paying the increased R-22 price for years to come. You will, of course, also save money with decreased energy bills from a more efficient system.
While a slow leak may have gone unfixed in the past, it may now be more beneficial to find and repair the leak to keep from having to refill your refrigerant again and again. And don’t wait! The further into summer we get, the less R-22 will be available and the higher the price will be.
Ready to take action and avoid paying even higher prices for R-22 in the future? Schedule a service online or call 800-226-2636.
Posted in: Tips