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By now you’ve probably heard about the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) mandated phase out of R-22 refrigerant to minimize environmental risk. But like many things, there are constant rules and regulations – and it can be difficult to stay up-to-date until you are directly impacted. The good news is, Wyckoff Heating & Cooling always has your home comfort top of mind. In fact, the HVAC industry is constantly working to improve home energy efficiencies and decrease costs for consumers, while remaining environmentally friendly.
Below, you will learn details on the phase out timeline, along with the best solutions to achieve home comfort at a price you can afford.
First and foremost, some background on the phase out schedule. To meet requirements of the EPA mandate, production of air conditioning units charged with R-22 ended in 2010, and by 2020 the servicing of refrigerant based systems will rely only on recycled or reclaimed refrigerants. Going forward, the EPA’s consumption allocation will decrease allowances of R-22 usage each year until 2020.
What does this mean for homeowners?
While new air conditioning systems are no longer be equipped to utilize refrigerant, there are several options available to update your current system before failure occurs. Many homeowners are opting for long-term solutions to an inevitable upgrade later down the road. Here’s how:
- Total System Replacement: The best long-term solution to the refrigerant phase out is total system replacement. Why? Though refrigerant will be available for several more years, the price of R-22 will continue to rise as availability becomes scare. Additionally, because alternate refrigerants are not compatible with air conditioners that utilize refrigerant, replacement is only a temporary fix until the refrigerant is no longer available.
Total system replacement involves updating all components of your air conditioning system, including outdoor and indoor units, pipework and electrical wiring. Complete replacement does require the most upfront costs upon installation, but offers the most energy efficient, environmentally friendly option for homeowners. Before deciding on a total replacement, you will want to consider all factors, including the current age of your air conditioner, how long you plan to stay in your home and current budget capabilities.
- Replace Outdoor and Indoor Units: In some cases, it is possible to reuse the existing infrastructure of your air conditioning system, including pipework, wiring and power supply. Partial R-22 replacement solutions integrate the latest air conditioning components with your existing system. This can save homeowners more than 50 percent on updating costs, and is often a good option for those with an air conditioner that is less than ten years old. Here, you will see major improvements to performance, energy efficiency and running costs, without an overwhelming replacement investment.
- Replacement Refrigerant: Unfortunately, substitute refrigerants are not compatible with existing units that utilize R-22 without complex re-engineering. Taking this approach will diminish your system’s reliability and performance, leaving you at risk of failure or unplanned downtime. In addition, system maintenance will become increasingly expensive.
Replacement refrigerants should only be used in a limited and short-term measure. Even then, it’s imperative they are part of a replacement plan. Though replacements may reduce your immediate investment, they are not cost-effective solutions. In fact, of all the R-22 replacement options, replacement refrigerants are the riskiest, and long-term, are the most expensive.
Each home and air conditioner is unique. If you have questions or concerns about the refrigerant phase out mandate, contact us or call (800) 246-0273 to schedule your HVAC system tune-up today.