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R-22 Refrigerant Is Even Harder to Come by This Summer–Is It Time for an A/C Replacement?

R-22 refrigerant, which was the main refrigerant used in A/Cs and heat pumps before 2010, is in the process of being phased out due to the harmful effects it can have if it escapes into the atmosphere. New air conditioners and heat pumps manufactured since 2010 have been engineered to use a different refrigerant that does not deplete the earth’s protective ozone layer as R-22 refrigerant does.

For 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the set the tightest limits yet on the production of new R-22, lowering its allowed production to 39 million pounds from the 55 million pounds allowed in 2012. The news of the lower supply has already led to significant price increases for R-22 refrigerant.

Some companies offer alternative refrigerants for use in air conditioners designed to run with R-22,  but this generally requires serious equipment modifications since the new refrigerant, usually R-410A, operates under higher pressure. And even if you make the necessary system changes, you’re still likely to get substandard efficiency and performance. This means the only long-term solution is to upgrade to a new air conditioner designed to use R-410A or one of the other new refrigerant formulas.

There are potential savings that may be realized if you upgrade to a new air conditioner now rather than later. First off, newer air conditioners are almost always more efficient than older ones. This can offer substantial savings on energy bills, and the sooner you upgrade, the sooner you will start saving.

Additionally, a federal tax credit is available for homeowners who install a new energy-efficient air conditioner. The tax credit is for 10 percent of the costs of installing a new system and is limited to a maximum of $300. To qualify, split air conditioning systems must have a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) of at least 16 and a energy efficiency ratio (EER) of at least 13.

For more information about the R-22 refrigerant phaseout or the federal tax credit, please contact us at Rinaldi’s Energy Solutions. We’ve been providing high-quality HVAC services to residents of the Orlando area since 1969.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about R-22 refrigerant and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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