As of January 2010 the R-22 refrigerant, a HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbon), is no longer being manufactured. This refrigerant had been the refrigerant of choice for residential heat pump and air conditioning systems for over four decades. Residential heating and cooling systems are now available with ozone-friendly refrigerants.
- The Montreal Protocol, an international environmental agreement in 1987, established requirements that began a worldwide phase-out of the ozone-depleting CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons).
- In 1992 the Montreal Protocol was amended to establish a schedule for the phase-out of HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons). Although the HCFCs are less damaging to the ozone layer than CFCs, they still contain ozone-destroying chlorine. As a result of this phase-out the EPA, through the Title VI of the Clean Air Act, established a schedule to phase-out HCFCs including R-22.
- Until the year 2020, R-22 will be reclaimed and reused to service existing equipment or recycled and used in other cooling systems.
- Service technicians who repair leaks to your system will be able to continue to charge R-22 into your system as part of the repair.
Price of R-22
- The price is expected increase as stockpiled refrigerant dwindles over the next 15 years.
- The EPA believes that consumers should not be subjected to significant price hikes due to the lengthy phase-out period.
- R-22 will be replaced by non-ozone-depleting refrigerants as it is phased out.
- A current substitute available in the HVAC industry is R-410A. This is manufactured and sold under various trade names.
Life Expectancy of Current Equipment
- The average life expectancy of an air conditioning unit or heat pump is 12-15 years.
- You should keep in mind that if you had installed a new R-22 air conditioning system in 2005, you will still be able to get refrigerant for your system until at least the year 2020, when it will no longer be available.
Energy Efficient Equipment
- If you have older equipment and have decided to replace your system, consider purchasing a high-energy efficient system that uses R-410A refrigerant.
- Today’s energy efficient air conditioners use much less energy to produce that same amount of cooling. According to the EPA, Energy Star ® labeled products can save homeowners 10 – 40% on their heating and cooling bills every year.
“What You Should Know about Refrigerants When Purchasing or Repairing a Residential A/C System or Heat Pump.” The United States Environmental Agency. 19 August 2010. < http://www.epa.gov/ozone/title6/phaseout/22phaseout.html >.