You may have heard the rumors swirling, but there’s no denying the truth: R-22 Freon is now down to its final few days as a legal substance in the United States. Starting on January 1st, 2020, the EPA’s ban on the substance will go into full effect, ending all domestic production of the once-common refrigerant once and for all. In addition, Freon will no longer be allowed to be imported either. That fact has a lot of people worried, and there’s a chance you may be among them.
To understand the Freon ban in greater detail, we need to go back several decades. When modern air conditioning advanced and progressed, scientists and inventors developed Freon as a dependable, effective refrigerant which would be capable of carrying heat to and from certain locations as well as absorbing and shedding it quickly. However, soon after its widespread implementation, researchers began to realize that it was extraordinarily toxic to just about everything, including humans, animals, and the entire planet. In fact, evaporated Freon was found to deal tremendous damage to the ozone layer in our atmosphere, which protects us from harmful radiation from the sun.
To take proactive steps to save the environment, the United States joined the 1987 Montreal Protocol, a joint agreement to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals. Fast forward a few decades to the first major point on the timeline: 2010, when the United States cut Freon production down by 75%. By 2015, the cuts went another 15% further, leading us to where we are today. Now, in just a few short months, the ban will go into full effect.
How This Affects Your Air Conditioner
So how does this impact your air conditioner today? Will you be forced to go buy a new one because of this ban? Are you going to have to shell out for a new system or go for a while without air conditioning until you can purely because of an ill-timed ban? The answer is a resounding “no.” In fact, the ban does not impact systems which are already installed or in use in the United States. The ban is a “grandfathering” ban, which simply means that new systems which use R-22 Freon refrigerant can’t be installed or purchased. If you have an air conditioner that still works just fine and depends on this refrigerant, you are allowed to use it and do not have to replace it until you’re ready to do so.
However, you will notice some changes in operating costs, notably when it comes to maintenance and recharge services. If you have a Freon-based system, you may have noticed how expensive even simple recharge services have become over the last few years: what used to be a pretty routine and inexpensive repair now costs hundreds of dollars. Rest assured you’re not getting ripped off: you’re feeling the effects of supply and demand. With Freon manufacturing now at a tiny fraction of what it once was, available recharge supplies have become difficult to find. That’s driven the price up, which in turn is passed on to the consumer.
That effect will only become even greater over the next few years. Because of the ban, Freon will become even more difficult to find, and you’ll be stuck with even bigger bills for trying to get it fixed. Before long, replacing your Freon-based air conditioner with a new one that doesn’t use Freon will become a far more financially feasible option. Eventually, all Freon-based air conditioners will disappear and the problem will be gone for good.
However, if you want to get ahead of the curve now and make your home more energy-efficient in the process, we encourage you to reach out to our team of air conditioning professionals and learn more about replacing your system with a new, energy-efficient solution that doesn’t depend on Freon. Believe it or not, a new system may be more affordable than you thought, and the savings form not having to pay for extremely expensive Freon-based repairs could save you a bundle in no time.