How Will the R-22 Phaseout Impact You?
In 1987 the United States signed the Montreal Protocol, promising to reduce the amount of hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) used in order to help protect the environment. Limits on the amount of HCFCs used. While the Environmental Protection Agency has issued strict regulations on HCFC’s and their use, the Montreal Protocol has gone the added step of banning its use altogether after 2020.
HCFCs, with R-22 (freon) being the most common, have been shown to deplete the ozone layer when released as greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. R-22 is the most common HCFC resulting from its use as the primary refrigerant in residential air conditioners.
At the start of 2010, use of HCFCs in the United States was mandated to be 75 percent lower than a baseline amount established by the EPA. It is being replaced by R-410a and a variety of other refrigerants based on the application. Although R-22 will still be available for another eight years, its cost will be significantly higher as supply and demand struggle to match-up.
In 2010, the mandate to discontinue shipping cooling units that contained r22 went into effect. However, manufacturers had significant amounts of R-22 units that had already been manufactured. Taking advantage of a loophole in the mandate, manufacturers converted these units into “dry-ship” units by removing the R-22 and replacing it with mineral oil or other material. The prices were reduced on these units and significant numbers of these units were sold. This put tremendous pressure on the dwindling supply of R-22, thus exacerbating the already challenging issue of supply and demand. When the 2010 reduction allocations went into effect, this helped create a skyrocketing price along with increased demand and shrinking supply. Not a good recipe.
This created an artificially induced dependency on r22 at a time when the market could ill-afford it. Now, consumers will be faced with a no-win situation: high maintenance cost of new units or scrap these units and convert to units that use lower GWP refrigerants – eating the cost of the unit before it’s time. The use of R-410a and other replacement refrigerants in residential air conditioners was approved by the EPA after studies confirmed its reduced impact of the ozone layer over that of R-22. Regulations preventing it from being vented into the atmosphere remain in place as it has been proven to contribute to greenhouse gas.
At the current time, there are no planned restrictions or allocation reductions of the R-22 replacement refrigerants.
For more information on the R-22 phaseout: http://www.phaseoutfacts.org/