Since the 1970s, a large hole or thinning in the ozone layer has appeared over Antarctica, resulting from releasing harmful substances and chemicals into the atmosphere. The hole appears annually in September as the sun rises in Antarctica and releases human-produced chemicals and compounds lingering on polar clouds. The ozone layer is essential to the Earth’s atmosphere as it protects us from UV radiation.
The good news is that many people are working to help reduce the depletion of the ozone layer. One of the ways they’re fighting this depletion is a refrigerant phase-out, which includes chemicals like hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). This article can help you create an HCFC phase-out management plan to ensure you’re prepared when these chemicals are no longer available.
Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are the chemicals mainly used as refrigerants. When these chemicals are released into the atmosphere, they contribute to the thinning of the ozone layer, which helps protect the Earth from ultraviolet radiation. HCFC refrigerants also contribute to global warming.
R-22 is a specific type of HCFC refrigerant predominately used for air conditioners. You may know R-22 as “Freon,” one of its brand names. This chemical cools or heats the air as it passes through your HVAC system, transforming it into a gas or liquid. These transformations help the chemical quickly radiate or absorb heat, helping to cool or heat your home.
Since R-22 depletes the ozone layer, it’s one of many substances the Montreal Protocol of 1987 listed for phase-out. This protocol aims to reduce primary ozone-depleting substances until their production and use are eliminated by 2030 in all countries. R-22 was once one of the most commonly used refrigerants in HVAC units. However, as people worldwide try to be more eco-conscious, we’re starting to see the importance of phasing out these harmful chemicals for a more environmentally friendly alternative.
As of January 1, 2020, the phase-out of ozone-depleting substances will affect all existing equipment using HCFC and R-22. This phase-out has made it challenging for companies or individuals to find even a small amount of HCFCs to replenish their systems or for maintenance or repairs.
As part of the Montreal Protocol, R-22 is no longer produced or imported, but you can still use the refrigerant in your existing system for as long as needed. The phase-out period allows individuals to keep using their old system while they prepare to buy a new eco-friendly air conditioning unit. Once they have a new AC unit, the existing R-22 is recycled, reclaimed or recovered.
As more people start switching over their HVAC units, the demand for R-22 will decline. Additionally, supply is severely limited since R-22 is no longer produced or imported. The more limited the supply of R-22, the more expensive it and the service equipment will become. These factors alone may be enough to convince an individual to buy a new air conditioner with a different type of refrigerant, helping them save in the long term.
As R-22 phases out, the limited availability and costs may convince you to buy a new air conditioner. Choosing the right system according to your lifestyle is essential if you’re considering making the switch. Think about the following factors when looking for your next air conditioner:
These are just a few things you should consider when looking for a new air conditioner. An HVAC technician can help you find a suitable unit suited to your unique lifestyle and needs.
It’s still possible to have your HVAC unit serviced if you’re using R-22 as your refrigerant. You can reduce the servicing you need by performing regular maintenance on your HVAC system. You’ll also reduce unnecessary environmental damage with the appropriate care.
Finding a reliable technician with an EPA section 608 certification is essential when you want to service your HVAC system. This certification shows that the technician has the knowledge and skills to work on equipment containing R-22 without releasing the refrigerant into the environment.
If you have a leak, insist that your technician finds the leak’s location and repairs it rather than simply topping off the system. Fixing a leak reduces the amount of R-22 unnecessarily released into the atmosphere and can save you money by optimizing your existing system.
Technicians must also use refrigerant recovery equipment while they’re servicing your system. This equipment prevents R-22 from being released into the environment. It’s also essential to note that intentionally releasing R-22 into the air is illegal, which is another reason it’s necessary to find a certified HVAC technician.
Your HVAC provider can assist you with getting the right, alternative refrigerant for your system. While R-22 is retiring, there are others that can are less harmful to the environment and can help your system use less energy to run.
As harmful HCFCs start to phase out of use, you will want to find a new air conditioning unit that can work with alternative refrigerants. Shipley Energy is here to help you find the proper HVAC system to suit your needs and meet changing standards. We have over 90 years of experience in the industry, and our qualified HVAC technicians can guide you through each step of the process.
Once your new air conditioning unit is installed, we can also assist with regular maintenance and repairs to ensure that your unit continues to serve you for years to come. Learn more about Shipley Energy’s HVAC services, and contact us today!