2014 Outlook of the R-22 Mandate on Refrigerators and Air Conditioners:
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After the discovery that R-22 has many negative effects for the environment, many newer, greener refrigerants have been developed to take its place. Since the year 2010, the United States has ceased the production and import of R-22 refrigerant for use in new refrigerators and air conditioners. Thus if you have replaced your air conditioner or refrigerator after January 1, 2010, it probably does not use R-22 refrigerant. However, R-22 may still be manufactured or imported for use in existing air conditioners and refrigerators. This practice will cease on January 1, 2020. After this time, all R-22 used to service existing air conditioners or refrigerators will come from stores of recycled or reclaimed R-22, as no new R-22 can be introduced into the United States.
Current Use of R-22
R-22 was a popular refrigerant for over four decades. The widespread use of R-22 means that if you own an air conditioner, refrigerator, or heat pump that predates the year 2010, it is likely that your comfort system uses R-22 as its refrigerant. If your air conditioner, refrigerator, or heat pump requires additional refrigerant between today and the year 2020, new R-22 may still be added. However, because the import and manufacture of R-22 is now limited, you can expect the cost of replacing R-22 refrigerant in your existing system to rise sharply, increasing the overall cost to service a home’s central air conditioner.
Future Use of R-22 Refrigerant
After the year 2020, no new R-22 refrigerant may be introduced into the United States. If your older air conditioner, or heat pump requires additional refrigerant after this time, it may only be added from a store of reclaimed and recycled R-22. Because this supply will be extremely limited and become very rare over time, it will become even more costly to replace the refrigerant in your existing system.
Alternatively, you may be able to retrofit your air conditioning system to allow it to use alternative types of refrigerant. While the retrofit itself may be costly, the price of alternative refrigerants will be less than the cost of using R-22. However, HVAC manufacturers and certified AC service contractors warn that using a refrigerant other than R-22 in an older system, even if it has been retrofitted, may not provide efficient performance, and will likely cause any warranty to be void. The air conditioner, or heat pump may become more costly to run on a daily basis and may fail to deliver adequate cooling, or even cause damage to part of the air conditioning equipment. In this case, the most cost-effective solution may be to completely replace your older air conditioner with a new one that was originally designed to utilize refrigerants other than R-22.
If you’re concerned about the long-term cost of your air conditioner, or heat pump and how R-22 refrigerant restrictions will affect you, an expert air conditioning service and repair technician can help.
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