In 1987, what seems like centuries ago, the Montreal Protocol established certain requirements which would phase out ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). These requirements were then modified and expanded, which led to the phaseout of CFC production in pretty much all industrialized and developed nations. Here’s what it means for you and your HVAC system.
HVAC Systems That Use R22
R-22 is the refrigerant that’s responsible for cooling your home if you have an older HVAC system. But, in 2015, it will become illegal to use HCFCs, including R-22, in refrigeration and heating and cooling systems.
This ban will negatively affect everyone that currently uses R-22 in their current HVAC system. This year, if you’re going to recharge your system, do it. Otherwise, it’s time to hire a professional to install a HVAC system that’s R-410A compatible.
Multiple Occupancy Provisions
In a multiple tenant building, any upgrades can be passed onto the renters. So, if you own a rental unit, you don’t have to bear the full cost of upgrading.
For renters, they will need to understand the costs of paying for upgrades for new HVAC systems which may be embedded in their rent payments when their leases renew.
As R-22 is phased out, non-ozone-depleting alternatives are being introduced to the marketplace. The EPA evaluates these refrigerants and approves them for use in both commercial and residential buildings.
Some refrigerants, like R410A, is a blend of HCFCs that doesn’t contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer but, similar to R-22, it is still thought to contribute to global warming.
This is the primary replacement refrigerant for air conditioning systems, however, and the only viable new technology that is being produced on a mass scale to meet the needs of consumers and businesses with HVACs.
New Systems For Homeowners
Before you purchase a new system, assess your options. If you have to replace your HVAC, it might benefit you to look at heat pumps or other alternative heating and cooling systems.
If these systems are not affordable or impracticable, then get to know your new HVAC.
New cooling systems are based on the R-410A refrigerant. Because of this, the price of R-22 will rise substantially as supply struggles to meet the demand. Demand, will, of course peak when homeowners resist replacing their air conditioning systems and start paying for refrigerant recharges on current HVAC systems.
Older HVAC systems that are not compatible with new refrigerants will become increasingly expensive to maintain.
Of course, new R-410A refrigerants are more sensitive to proper charging than older R-22 systems and the new systems are more expensive to produce. This ultimately means those who are first in line for new HVAC systems will pay more than those who wait.
So, the best strategy for homeowners is to play it by ear. If your recharge and maintenance is cheaper than buying a new system, wait. If you can get a tax credit or rebate for your new system, then you should try to have a new system installed.
Marcus Stratham is an environmental consultant. He enjoys writing about the field online. His posts can be found on many homeowner and environmental websites.