The R-22 Refrigerant Phaseout Means Supplies Are Even Tighter--Is It Time to Replace That A/C?If you’ve been thinking about upgrading your old air conditioner, the R-22 refrigerant phaseout gives you a good reason to get the job done as soon as possible. Installing a more efficient air conditioner will save you money during northwest Arkansas’ hot summers and reduce your impact on the environment, too.

R-22 refrigerant, which is used in almost all older air conditioners, is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC). As such, it contains ozone-depleting chlorine. In accordance with the Clean Air Act, the manufacture of systems using R-22 refrigerant stopped in 2010. The production of R-22 refrigerant itself will end in 2020, but until then production levels are being systematically reduced.

Total production of new R-22 refrigerant was limited to 55 million pounds in 2012. In 2014, production will decrease by 20 percent relative to the 2012 baseline. When the R-22 refrigerant phaseout deadline arrives, HVAC technicians will have to use reclaimed or recycled refrigerant to service R-22-based systems manufactured before 2010.

While it will continue to be legal to use R-22 refrigerant, the ever-decreasing supply means this refrigerant will increase in price. It has actually already happened. This, in turn, increases maintenance costs for older residential A/Cs and heat pumps that need their R-22 recharged or topped off.

If you have an air conditioner that’s 10 years or older, the most cost-effective solution is to replace your existing air conditioner with one that uses R-410A refrigerant. This refrigerant contains no chlorine, so it’s more environmentally friendly than R-22. Because there’s no shortage of R-410A, systems using this refrigerant will be cheaper to maintain than older systems. If your A/C is just a few years old but still uses R-22, you’re probably OK for a few more years, since refrigerant links in newer systems are relatively rare.

Most air conditioners more than 10 years old have a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) of 10 or less, whereas newer systems offer SEERs that reach into the mid-20s. Upgrading to a modern high-efficiency air conditioner could reduce your cooling costs by up to 20 percent while providing superior cooling and humidity control.

If you’re ready to install a new air conditioner or you’d like professional guidance on any cooling or heating issue, please contact us at Paschal Heat, Air & Geothermal. Around northwest Arkansas, we help homeowners find efficient, convenient ways to stay comfortable year round.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Northwest Arkansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about R-22 refrigerant and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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