R-22, a type of refrigerant used in residential air conditioners is being phased out by the U.S. EPA in compliance with the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer and the earth’s atmosphere. Ever since 2010, no new air conditioning systems could be manufactured using R-22 and its availability is falling. After 2020, it will only be available as a reclaimed product.

How to Identify the Refrigerant

The best way to learn if your system uses it is to look in the owner’s manual or on the outdoor condenser. If it’s newer than 2010, it won’t use this gas. R-22s replacement, R-410a, was widely used before 2010, so even if your system predates 2010, it may not use R-22. Manufacturers switched early because R-410a was more energy efficient, less expensive and environmentally friendly.

If Yours Uses R-22

Learning that your system uses R-22 isn’t good news. Since it’s being phased out, the supply is diminishing and its cost has skyrocketed. Since only aging cooling systems use it, the best option may be to replace it entirely instead of repairing and refilling it should it need servicing.

As cooling systems run, they lose efficiency and cooling costs increase. Instead of putting money into a refill, it would be better spent on a new system that uses R-410a. Since 2010, efficiency standards have increased to the point where you’ll find your cooling costs will drop measurably with a new unit.

The difference in minimum efficiency standards for air conditions and heat pumps between 2010 and 2017 are substantial. The minimum SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) in 2010 was 10, and in 2017, it stands at a SEER rating of 14. A heat pump or air conditioner with a 14 SEER uses 40 percent less energy under laboratory testing conditions than a 10-SEER unit.

Having a cooling system that uses R-22 is a sure sign that it’s aging and will probably need replacing sooner rather than later. To learn more about your options, contact Jackson & Sons, providing HVAC services for homeowners in eastern North Carolina.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Eastern North Carolina (including Wayne, Johnston, Greene, Lenoir, Pitt and Duplin Counties) about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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