POSTED: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 6:43pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 - 12:25pm
The refrigerant you put in your home air conditioning system will change over the next few years.
That’s because the stuff you use now, is finally going away.
And it all began in a city in Canada.
In Montreal in 1987, world leaders gathered to address the problem of depletion of the Ozone layer in the atmosphere.
That is the layer that protects us from harmful solar radiation.
Since chlorine was the culprit, it had to be phased out of the refrigerant used in air conditioning.
In cars it was R-12, and in home units, R-22.
The car changeover was done pretty much right away, but home builders continued using R-22 for as long as they could.
So why the delay?
“I think the industry said, well, that’s good because now we’ve got customers for these new R-22 units that we’re selling them now in 2013,” says George Burton, owner of C. Woods Air Conditioning, “and then in 2018 when this thing is still in warranty, there’s not going to be any Freon for it. And warranties don’t cover Freon. None of them do. And most people don’t know that.”
And the replacement for R-22, will mean some big changes for homeowners, and pretty big expenses.
“In the past with R-22, if you lost the charge at your house,” says Burton, “you could get it charged back up for about 175 bucks. Now it’s going to cost you 700-1000. In the past 40 years, if a part of your air conditioner failed, whether it was the indoor unit or the outdoor unit, you could change pieces. You weren’t hit with the expense of changing everything out at the same time. But with them stopping the manufacture, if your outdoor unit went out but the indoor was still perfectly good, it’s got to go to the scrap pile.”
And the new stuff operates at much higher pressures within the system.
So it isn’t just a drop in substitute.
A baseline was set in 1992. We are to be using only 10% of the CFC-laden R-22 according to the treaty.
By 2020, it is to be only one-half a percent of that baseline.
And the R-22 that’s left is becoming more precious than gold.
But for all the moaning and groaning about car air conditioners, it has gone pretty smoothly.
But your home unit is a lot more expensive, $4-5000.
That will not be seamless.