What Consumers Should Know About the EPA Refrigerant (R-22) Phase-Out

A key date in the phase out schedule of ozone-depleting chemicals, including a refrigerant known as hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) or R-22 – is quickly approaching. Through Title VI of the Clean Air Act, implemented by the EPA, the U.S. is required to reduce consumption of HCFCs by 90 percent below the U.S. baseline by January 1, 2015, according to EPA.gov.

“R-22 is most commonly used as a refrigerant and contains chemicals that are harmful to the environment,” said Jon Hill, general manager of Hill & Company, a locally-owned heating, ventilation and air conditioning company. “The phase out date will be here before we know it and many consumers may not realize what that means for their systems currently running on the refrigerant.”

Hill & Company provides insight into HCFC phase out and what consumers should be aware of, especially as AC repairs and new system purchases tend to spike during the upcoming summer months.

  • As R-22 production decreases, alternate solutions will become available. Intercooleronline.com reports that the U.S. commercial refrigeration market will be worth $10.7 billion by 2018, increasing 3 percent each year until then. Consumers who are still using systems cooled by R-22 should talk to an HVAC professional and discuss alternative solutions for servicing their heat pumps and AC systems. Prices of refrigerant are continuing to rise and will see an intense spike on January 1. By 2020, the consumption of HCFCs is required to drop 99.5 percent, but that date could be expedited to 2018.
  • Use common sense when servicing and purchasing systems. The best way to ensure your system is running effectively and efficiently is through pre-scheduled maintenance. Maintenance plans, like Hill & Company’s Smart Service, ensures that your system is being regularly checked and tuned-up and also reduces the cost of maintenance and operation. Highly-efficient systems can also save homeowners anywhere from 10 to 40 percent on heating and cooling bills every year, according to the EPA, in addition to protecting the environment.
  • A new AC system purchase could be necessary. The Clean Air Act mandates HVAC manufacturers not produce new air conditioners and heat pumps containing R-22. As a general rule, AC systems last about10 years. Systems purchased before 2010 and running on R-22 may become obsolete by 2020, as consumption of HCFCs is required to drop by 99.5 percent and R-22 will become unavailable for purchase. Service professionals at Hill & Company can help determine smart solutions to save money in the long run on system replacements and service.