By Ken Goodrich as featured in The Arizona Republic 8/26/2017
Why is the cost to recharge your AC unit going up?
By 2020, Arizona air-conditioning users will be forced to find new sources of refrigerant to recharge their systems as R22, a popular Freon now in use, will be phased out by order of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA believes R22 harms the ozone layer and its use will be banned forever in January 2020. There are other types of less harmful refrigerants that will replace R22, but homeowners today need to make informed decisions when servicing and replacing their AC units.
Here are some common questions:
I keep hearing about R22. What is it and how does it impact air-conditioning in my home? R22 is a type of Freon refrigerant that helps your air conditioning produce cool air. The EPA has determined R22 harms the ozone layer and has ordered it to be phased out of use by 2020. Once this happens, R22 will no longer be produced or imported and will be replaced with R-410A. Air-conditioning manufacturers stopped production of R22-charged systems in 2010.
Why is the EPA phasing out R22? Hydrochlorofluorocarbons, or HCFCs, are chemicals that are mainly used as refrigerants. Unfortunately, the EPA has found the releases of HCFCs can deplete the Earth’s protective ozone layer and contribute to climate change.
What should I do? Do I need to replace my AC unit? No, you don’t have to replace your AC system at this time. You can continue to use R22 in existing systems, however, it will be available only from older systems that have been recycled, reclaimed or recovered. Lower supply of R22 is already resulting in much higher costs to recharge AC systems, and there will be no guarantee that R22 will be available in the future. In fact, R22 costs 10 times what it did five years ago. According to the EPA, “as a homeowner, you need to consider and balance several key factors in your decision to purchase a new unit, such as energy efficiency, performance, reliability, cost and the refrigerant used.”
Should I buy a new unit now or wait until 2020? It really depends. You’ll need to balance the age of your system with cost benefits realized from new systems. New, energy-efficient air-conditioners save on energy costs. Even if your air conditioner is less than 10 years old, you may save significantly on your energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model, according to the EPA.
How do I know what kind of AC unit I should consider buying? A central air-conditioner that has earned the ENERGY STAR label is at least 14 percent more efficient and will save you money. Ken Goodrich is owner and CEO of Goettl Air Conditioning.