Georgia homeowners who need to recharge their older air conditioners with refrigerant may be in for a bit of sticker shock when it comes time to pay for that service.
That is because R-22 (also known as Freon) refrigerant prices have roughly tripled compared over the past year, and likely will continue rising over the next several years. Why? It soon will be illegal to manufacture R-22 refrigerant, per a international mandate that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is enforcing. Since about 80 percent of existing home air-conditioning systems use R-22 refrigerant, and the supply of the refrigerant is dwindling to zero, it’s an extreme case of how supply and demand affects prices.
There are good reasons for the EPA mandate that R-22 be phased out. A pound of R-22 has 1,810 times as much impact on global warming as the same amount of carbon dioxide, and it also has at least some potential to cause depletion of the ozone layer. There are newer refrigerants available that are far more environmentally friendly, and they’re far cheaper. The only problem is that most home air-conditioning systems manufactured before 2010 are designed to use R-22. Therefore, using the new refrigerants requires getting a new air conditioner.
You still can get R-22, at the new higher prices, until production ceases completely in 2020. So for approximately eight more years, you’ll be able to get your older air conditioner’s refrigerant topped off. However, the dramatic increase in R-22 refrigerant prices makes a big difference in the whole repair vs. replace debate.
Repairs are going to be more expensive, which means it may make better financial sense to replace your old air conditioner with a new model. Refrigerant leaks should be found and repaired before adding freon. Don’t be fooled by misleading advertising for free R22 or freon – they imbed the cost into the leak check and repair. Besides using the less expensive, newer refrigerants available, new air conditioners today tend to be more energy efficient, which will lower your electricity bills. So choosing to replace your air conditioner now can be cheaper in the long run than trying to repair your old unit.
If you have questions or would like more information about refrigerant prices and upgrading your air-conditioning system, contact us at Powers Heating and Air. We will provide free estimates on repairs after the initial diagnosis, and we’ll help you decide whether to repair or replace your home’s air conditioner.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about rising refrigerant prices and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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