EPA

Air Conditioning, Service & Maintenance

Phasing Out R-22: Costs Are Rising, Supplies Dwindling

Phasing Out R-22: Costs Are Rising, Supplies Dwindling

Phasing Out R-22: Costs Are Rising, Supplies Dwindling

Air conditioners use refrigerant to cool indoor air that passes over the cold, refrigerant-filled coils. If your air conditioner was manufactured prior to 2010, there is a good chance it requires R-22 refrigerant, which means you will begin to notice continuing annual increases in maintenance costs because supplies of R-22 are dwindling.R-22 refrigerant is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HFC) that emits ozone-depleting chlorine. As such, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set strict limitations on it's production for use in commercial and residential A/Cs through 2020. After that, the only way to recharge equipment requiring R-22 will be to capture and recycle it from phased out units. The extra labor costs, as well as the rising refrigerant costs due to lack of supply, will be transferred directly to the consumer.To give you an idea of how this has affected the HVAC industry:

  • As of 2010, manufacturing HVAC equipment requiring the use of R-22 has been prohibited.

  • Newer air conditioning systems are being manufactured to be compatible with refrigerants that are less harmful to the ozone, predominantly R410A.

  • R-22 production is being increasingly limited. In 2011 the EPA permitted 100 million pounds of virgin R-22 to be brought to the market. In 2013, that number is reduced to 39 millions pounds. By 2020 it will no longer be manufactured.

To prepare for the R-22 phaseout:Verify the type of refrigerant you need. If you haven't scheduled your A/C maintenance yet, now is a good time to make an appointment. Ask the technician whether or not your unit requires the use of R-22. If it does, you will need to begin preparing for increasing refrigerant costs over the next several years.Replacement in coming years. If your unit was made prior to 2010 and it requires R-22, you should begin thinking about an eventual replacement.Beware of alternative refrigerant options. You may have read alternative refrigerants, such as R-407C, R-438A and R-422 are compatible in an R-22 system. Unfortunately, they can seriously compromise your equipment.Contact Air Assurance to learn more about your options during the R-22 phaseout. We're dedicated to helping Tulsa-area residents find cost-effective HVAC solutions.Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Tulsa and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  Image courtesy of Shutterstock