EPA is Phasing Out Freon — Is Your HVAC Ready?

September 12, 2019

As of the year 2020, it will be illegal to manufacture hydrochlorofluorocarbon in the U.S.

Hydrochlorofluorocarbon goes by a couple of other names, like R-22, HCFC-22, or Freon (DuPont's proprietary name). Freon is the refrigerant chemical that has been used in all kinds of refrigeration and cooling appliances, like air conditioners, since its invention in 1928. The inventors of Freon were praised for creating a "non-toxic" material that made refrigeration safer by ridding refrigerators of the previously used toxic gases like methyl chloride and ammonia. That is until the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) realized the damage that R-22 can do to the earth's ozone layer and announced a Freon phase-out by January 2020. So what does that mean for your air conditioner, wallet, and home comfort?

Freon’s Impact on the Environment

When Freon releases into the atmosphere, it reacts with the ultraviolet rays of the sun and the molecules of Freon are broken down. Chlorine atoms are then released, which causes a chain reaction that breaks down the oxygen molecules that make up the earth’s ozone layer. The ozone keeps dangerous ultraviolet rays from reaching the surface of the planet, which is why Freon is widely considered one of the most harmful environmental pollutants. Freon is classified as an ozone-depleting substance (ODS). 

The EPA has banned all-new production of Freon, R-22, HCFC-22, or hydrochlorofluorocarbon. As the supply of Freon refrigerant becomes more limited in the United States, the cost of replacing it will become more expensive; Thus, increasing the cost of replacing the chemical in your air conditioner or cooling equipment.


What to Do about the Refrigerant Phase-Out

Without any refrigerant in your air conditioner, you may not have access to the cool air you depend on during the summer months. So, what can you do about this phase-out? 

While it will still be legal to use a condensing unit that utilizes Freon or recycled R-22, there are some Freon alternatives available, such as R-410A or Puron. The chemical is ozone-friendly and performs similarly to R-22, with a few caveats. You cannot simply swap out and replace your outdated refrigerant with Puron. Feron and Puron require different pressurization to operate so you would need to retrofit your old air conditioning unit.  However, the potentially high cost and overall effectiveness of air conditioner maintenance as your model ages may not be desirable.

Is It Time for Air Conditioner Replacement?

With the cost of Freon rising as it phases out and the increased efficiency of today's modern air conditioners, this may be the time to replace your home cooling system. Before you jump to the phone to find an HVAC contractor,  start by asking yourself a few questions: 

  1. Are you willing to retrofit and maintain your aging AC unit?
  2.  Is your air conditioner more than ten years old?
  3. Have you had more than one AC breakdown in the last year?
  4. Is your AC unit properly sized for your home?
  5. Do you experience inconsistent room-to-room temperatures?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, it may be time to consider replacing your air conditioner with a more sustainable and efficient model.


Air Conditioning Replacement: A PACE Qualifying Upgrade

While the phase-out is meant to help, homeowners switch over their air conditioning on a regular schedule replacing your older air conditioner may still be intimidating due to the replacement or retrofitting costs.  Fortunately, upgrading to an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly air conditioner qualifies for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing!

PACE offers homeowners the financing they need for qualified energy-efficient upgrades, without having to put any money down upfront. Any home upgrades financed with PACE are split up into payments over the long term and appears as a line item on your property tax bill.

If you are looking for more information about how you can finance your HVAC upgrades with PACE financing, we are only a phone call away. 

Stay ahead of the Freon phase-out and upgrade your HVAC using PACE financing. You can apply now, or call 844-736-3934.