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How The Phase Out of R-22 Will Impact The Average Consumer

phasing out of r-22

What is R-22?

R22 is a refrigerant more commonly known as Freon. R22 will either be in liquid or gas form depending on pressure levels. The coolant acts as a heat absorbent, and when used with a compressor and evaporator, in an air conditioning refrigerator allows for the return of cold, dry air. R22 is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) breaks down the ozone, causing damage to the layer. This damage to the ozone was first detected back in the 1980s and steps have been put in place since then leading to phase out. Starting in 2010, production of R22 ceased, and after decades of usage, R22 will be illegal in the United States beginning January 1st, 2020.

The international agreement, the Montreal Protocol deemed R22 too detrimental to the OZONE layer and was banned globally. As defined by the Clean Air Act and enforced by the Environmental Protection Act (EPA), R22 will no longer be available in the United States and will be phased out over time.

How Does Phase out of R-22 Affect Consumers?

Since modern life depends on appliances that use refrigerants, what happens now? If you own a unit that made before January 1st, 2010 it will most likely use R22. The EPA is taking a gradual approach to restricting the use of R22, so there is no need to panic, but you should start taking steps to discover what you should do.

Identify What My Units Currently Use

Most appliances that use a refrigerant will have a tag or sticker on the back of the unit with details regarding the type of coolant it uses. Also, cross reference the information with the owner’s manual and the website. Many manufacturers have a customer service number you can call. If you discover you have a unit that uses R22, you are still permitted under the law to have it serviced with R22, and there aren’t any new units being manufactured using the banned substance. Expect a spike in the cost to repair your unit as the supply of R22 shrinks, the price will surely increase, and that expense will be passed down to the consumer.

Is there a replacement for R22?

R410A (Puron) is the refrigerant standard for units manufactured after 2010. R410A (Puron) is more environmentally friendly, more efficient, and prolongs the life of units, compared to R22 (Freon). R410A is a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC), which does not harm the ozone. All new air conditioning units, refrigerators, freezers, and heat pumps are manufactured to use R410A and became the industry standard in 2015. R410A is a better coolant than freon, as it is able to absorb heat more effectively, and requires less work from the compressor. Units that use R22 have to use mineral oil, while R410A uses synthetic oil. Synthetic oil is more efficient for the overall performance of the unit, by significantly causing fewer vibrations, which causes less wear and tear making your unit require fewer repairs and last longer.

What should I do?

If you discover your current unit uses R22, you have three options.

1. You can decide to do nothing.

2. You can buy a new unit that uses R410A

3. Have a technician explore upgrading your unit.

1. You can decide to do nothing.

If you decide to do nothing, you won’t be affected too much early on. However, as supplies of R22 depletes, the cost will increase significantly, and you may end up spending more money on repairs than you would if you bought a brand-new unit.

2. You can buy a new unit that uses R410A

Depending on your current financial state, this may not be a viable option at this point. If you can afford to buy new units that use R410A, then, by all means, do so.

3. Have a technician explore upgrading your unit

If an upgrade by a technician to your existing unit is more affordable at this point, you will need a professional to assess this a doable option. Some units can use be retrofitted to allow them to use R410A. The reason retrofitting is not always an option is due to the intricacies of how the unit works. The unit consists of a system of modules that work together. It is also risky for a technician to even attempt the process of retrofitting as there is often a need to replaces multiple parts, which can drive up the cost, and the unit may not work. Also, any existing warranties will be void once the technicians open the unit.

Finding a Technician

The law is explicit on how every aspect of this phase out process should go. Under “Section 608,” the EPA’s regulations define how technicians are to handle refrigerants for repair and disposal (which will be discussed later in this article). Any technician you are considering should be EPA Certified. Every technician who is EPA Certified will have an identification card.

Proper Disposal of Old Units

If you decide purchasing a new unit is in your best interest, there are systems in place to take care of it for you. For example, if you choose to buy a new unit, the company will offer to remove your old unit for a small fee or free in some instances. Under most circumstances, the local municipality will provide support to dispose of old units. The Clean Air Act also defines strict regulations on the proper disposal of old units. The law clearly states rules and regulations on every aspect of the disposal process.

Conclusion

Scientist first noticed the hole in the ozone almost 40 years ago, and we are long overdue to make these changes. R410A is more efficient, effective, and environmentally friendly than R22. The EPA has ensured there are resources to support consumers on ways to make this necessary transition as smooth as possible, from the government support on the proper disposal of refrigerants to educational materials and the gradual process of the phase out process. The phaseout of R22 will affect consumers as it has been the go to refrigerant since the 1950s, used in refrigerators, dehumidifiers, heat pumps, and air conditioner units dating back to the 1950s.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of Ways2GoGreen.com and Ways2GoGreenBlog.com. I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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