Your HVAC system keeps you toasty during blizzards and cool during the dog days of summer, but do you ever consider the implications it may have on the environment? If your HVAC system is 10 years old or older, chances are it uses R22, or Freon as a refrigerant. This matters because the use of R22 impacts the environment and your wallet.
Read on to learn more about what an HVAC system that relies on R22 means for you.
Environmental impact: The Montreal Protocol
The Montreal Protocol isn’t some band your hipster friends want to take you to see at Bonnaroo. It’s actually one of the largest and farthest reaching international treaties ever signed. It laid out a plan to phase out and eventually eliminate the use and production of chemicals and materials that damage the ozone layer. R22 happens to be one of those ozone-depleting chemicals. Aside from using R22, systems that are a decade or older just won’t function like they used to and aren’t as energy efficient as today’s HVAC models.
R22 is already in the process of being phased out. No new R22 is being produced, and the plan calls for it to be completely phased out by 2020. Newer HVAC systems use 410A refrigerant, which is better for the environment and more readily available.
You may have heard of an R22 replacement called MO99 refrigerant. This is considered a “drop-in” refrigerant, and one that CroppMetcalfe does NOT recommend. It has yet to be approved by compressor manufacturers, and reduces an HVAC’s system’s efficiency. It can also cause problems with the compressor oil, which is why the use of MO99 is a stop-gap measure and shouldn’t be considered as a long-term, financially-sound solution.
As the basic economics of supply and demand suggests, the price of R22 has risen dramatically in the last few years. As the R22 supply continues to diminish, these prices are expected to keep skyrocketing.
Typically, homeowners choose to have small repairs performed on their HVAC as a more budget-friendly option than replacing the system. This might not be the case in the near future as the price to fix a leak or recharge a unit that uses R22 will cost too much to be considered as a short-term solution to HVAC woes.
If you’re wondering if you need to go out and purchase a new heating and cooling system immediately, the answer is no. If your system is running smoothly, there’s no need to rock the boat. However, if you find yourself needing refrigerant every year or your system has already been diagnosed with a leak, then purchasing a new HVAC system may be in your best interest. Not only will the refrigerant be better for the earth, but a newer system is more eco-friendly and energy efficient in general. Contact HVAC experts if you have any questions about your existing HVAC system or want to talk replacement.