If you have an HVAC system that’s more than a few years old, chances are it uses R-22 refrigerant. R-22 was standard in air conditioners for years. However, as of Jan. 1, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will no longer allow it to be manufactured in the United States or imported from other countries. What’s the problem, and what alternatives are there for your A/C?
R-22 refrigerant is used to cool the air in your HVAC system before it’s circulated through your home. The substance was ultimately found to be extremely hazardous to the environment. If it leaks out of your system, it can damage the ozone. Additionally, the manufacturer of R-22 releases byproducts into the air that are also extremely harmful.
Because of this, the EPA has been working to phase out the use of R-22 since 2004. They stopped it from being used in new HVAC systems beginning in 2010, only allowing it for the repair of existing units. Now, beginning in 2020, even that option will go away and R-22 will be outlawed entirely.
Alternatives to R-22
If your A/C still runs on R-22 refrigerant, you still have a few options if you need yours recharged. You can still obtain R-22 that’s been reclaimed from old systems, but it’s scarcity will cause the price to increase dramatically. There’s also a more environmentally friendly replacement called R-410A. Beware, though: It’s not necessarily a simple case of swapping out one refrigerant for another, and in many cases, you may need a whole new system.
Also keep in mind that since R-22 hasn’t been used in new units since 2010, in 2020, your system will likely be at least 10 years old, which is close to the age when you should replace your A/C anyway. Rather than paying an exorbitant amount to replace a refrigerant that’s harming the environment, why not invest in a new system that’s more efficient and better for the planet?