November 22, 2013
Although our temperatures in San Diego tend to be beautiful and temperate, summers can get toasty, making air conditioning far more than a novelty. Why bring this up now, when San Diego heating systems are just getting cranked up across the county? R22 Freon is on it’s way out, so now is the time to start thinking about your options. Keep your HVAC system running smoothly – and cost effectively – by understanding the hidden forces driving up costs.
Why is R22 being phased out?
All AC units use Freon, but the way that they use it, and the types of Freon that they use it, differ. R22 Freon is commonly found in older AC units, as it was the refrigerant of choice for several decades. However, R22 Freon is not very environmentally friendly – release of this form of Freon can happen through AC leaks, emitting chemicals into the environment that contributes to ozone depletion. Additionally, the manufacturing process of R22 Freon requires the processing of a greenhouse gas which results in an HCF-23 by-product that also contributes to global warming.
To reduce the environmental impact of eco-unfriendly R22 Freon, this type of Freon is being phased out; newer AC units may feature one of the several alternate coolants, however, the most popular form currently used is R-410A.
What the phase-out means to homeowners
As more and more aging air conditioners reach the end of their lifespan, they are being replaced with newer units which use the more eco-friendly coolants. However, it can be costly to replace an AC unit, so some homeowners prefer to continue using R22 or to retrofit their systems. Current AC units that run using R22 Freon can continue to do so – however, the EPA now requires that less R22 Freon to be manufactured – so R22 Freon costs are soaring.
Some units that currently run on R22 Freon can be retrofitted to use the more ozone-friendly materials, however not all units are eligible and non-retrofit units can’t run the R-410A coolant because it functions at a higher pressure than R22.
Do you need to upgrade or retrofit?
Again, it may seem untimely to post this blog about coolant amidst the winter holidays, but we want to get homeowners considering their options before things start to heat up. Should you determine it’s time to upgrade your system, we have huge rebates on Lennox Systems until November 29th. If you can’t take action before then, keep an eye out for spring rebates.
You may not at first be excited by the thought of getting a new HVAC system, but consider the silver lining – new units use less expensive coolants, are friendlier to the environment, and are much more energy efficient!
If you have an older AC unit that runs R22 Freon and is having issues related to the cooling mechanisms, you have a few options at your disposal. First, you can recharge your unit’s Freon with R22, but with the demand still high and production limited, the cost of Freon is high.
Alternately, you can consider having your existing system retrofitted so that it can use one of the newer, more eco-friendly coolants. You will need to update your system’s condenser and evaporator coil, but the system will run more efficiently which will result in a lower utility bill – something that can, in time, pay for the repair cost.
If you would like to consult on a recharge, retrofit or system upgrade, contact us – we are a licensed and insured San Diego HVAC contractor. We can help to diagnose the issue and recommend the solutions that best fit your energy and comfort needs and budget.