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With news of the R-22 refrigerant phaseout on many HVAC technicians’ minds, it may be time to think about what it means for your current HVAC system. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to end supplies of the refrigerant by 2020 in anticipation of a more environmentally-friendly alternative.

Out with the old

For years, R-22 (Freon) refrigerant enjoyed immense popularity as the standard in air conditioning systems. In spite of its effectiveness, R-22 is also well known as a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) compound. HCFC compounds contain chlorine, which depletes the ozone layer if accidentally released into the atmosphere.

As part of the Clean Air Act, the EPA is slowly phasing out R-22 refrigerant through a steady decrease in the allowable production and consumption amounts for producers and importers. Total allowances for virgin R-22 for 2013 have plummeted to 39 million pounds, in contrast to 2012’s allowance of 55 million pounds and 100 million pounds in 2011.

Allowances will continue to dwindle until the 2020 R-22 refrigerant phaseout date. After this date, anyone who continues to produce or use R-22 may receive fines and other penalties from the EPA.

In with the new

Despite the development of R-22 drop-in replacements, R-410A is shaping up to be its defacto replacement. Unlike R-22, R-410A refrigerant is chlorine-free, making it ozone-friendly and consequently safer to use. However, R-410A is not interchangeable with R-22, nor will the new refrigerant work properly in older systems that rely on R-22.

Should I upgrade now?

If you’re already thinking about replacing your current HVAC system, now’s the time to make the switch to one that uses R-410A. Many manufacturers have already made the switch to the new refrigerant in their newest models. As R-22 supplies shrink, the cost of recharging your current system may rise significantly, making a complete replacement more cost effective.

The professionals at Griffith Energy Services can tell you more about the R-22 refrigerant phaseout and how it affects your HVAC system. We offer dependable heating and cooling service to Baltimore and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area.

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