Freon, also known as refrigerant or coolant, is an odorless gas used in the cooling process of central air conditioning systems. This is what allows your home to feel cool and comfortable during the hot summer months. There are several types of freon, but the most commonly used in HVAC systems are hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC-22), also known as R-22 and Puron (R410A)
R-22 refrigerant was very popular among HVAC manufactures for many years, however, it was later discovered that HCFC-22 depletes the Earth’s protective ozone layer resulting in the EPA’s plan to phase out this type freon. The phase out began in 2004, with the final ban to take effect January 1, 2020.
How The R-22 Ban Affects Illinois Residents
If your air conditioner was manufactured before January 2010, it is likely that it uses R-22 refrigerant and this ban will affect homeowners with R-22 air conditioning systems. After January 1, 2020, HVAC contractors in Rockford and surrounding areas will no longer be able to use R-22 freon to repair AC’s. This means that if your system needs freon due to a leak, you will be forced to choose another alternative.
R-22 will be available for the rest of 2019, however, because the supply of R22 is dipping, prices are extremely high and will continue to rise. While it may seem wise to keep your current air conditioner and recharge it this year while supplies last, this option can be extremely costly and won’t help you next year if for some reason another repair is needed. You aren’t without options though. Here are a couple of options to consider.
Options for Homeowners who have R-22 Systems
Don’t Do Anything
If your AC is working at this time, you could hold off on doing anything until you are faced with having to make a decision due to a mid-season breakdown. We don’t recommend this option, but we want you to have all the facts and options so you can make an informed decision.
Replace The R-22 Freon With An Alternative Freon
Another option is to retrofit your current air conditioner to use a more earth friendly refrigerant. Although this is an option, it involves more than just adding a different refrigerant to the system. There is a process that includes evacuating the R-22, cleaning the freon lines, it could also involve replacing some parts. With this option there are a couple of things to be aware of. R22 requires low pressure compared to alternative freons. Older air conditioners were built to run on low pressure. If you choose to replace the freon with an alternative, there is a risk of the new freon putting stress on the older unit causing leaks. It’s also important to know that retrofitting can be costly and there is a risk of decreased performance and higher energy bills.
Replace your AC System
The final option is to replace your current air conditioner with a new system that uses environmentally friendly freon. While this is more cost upfront, it does save money in the long run and the new system pays for itself in a few years. New AC systems are designed to run more efficiently and to consume less energy. Using less energy results in lower utility bills,
ultimately saving you money.
There is another reason to consider replacing you AC. Your peace of mind! Waiting until your system breaks down isn’t the best option. Often times system breakdowns happen during extreme weather leaving you and your family at risk of being stranded in the heat.
Ultimately, whether you choose to wait, to retrofit your system or to replace it. Temperature Doctors is here to help you choose the option that works best for you. If you do want to replace your AC, there are many rebates, incentives, financing and low monthly payment options available right now. If you need help finding out if you have an R-22 system, or if you need help deciding which option is best for you, call Temperature Doctors, our team is here and happy to assist.
For more questions related to the R22 phase out, check out the EPA consumer fact page.