Some say that air conditioning is often the third most expensive item you will buy in your lifetime, following a house and vehicles. Generally, people are way more excited about buying houses and cars than they will ever be about air conditioning. No one is dying to pick out their next air conditioner — unless it’s broken. But now many homeowners are facing the decision of whether to update their old AC units that use R-22 with newer 410-A equipment. Here are a few reasons why an update is in order.
Context is Key
In the event that your AC does break down with a leaking coil (which is where the refrigerant goes), you’ll need to replace that part. However, an AC unit that requires R-22 freon will complicate that process due to the EPA mandate in 2009, which states that units charged with R-22 could no longer be manufactured. 410-A, a cheaper and less harmful freon, replaced it. Keep in mind that 410-A isn’t healthy for the atmosphere. It is simply less harmful than R-22 freon to the ozone.
While this beckoned in a new era to help prevent the harmful effects of freon in our atmosphere, it presents a problem for homeowners still using their old air conditioners. If your R-22 unit breaks down with a refrigerant-related problem, you’ll be faced with the decision of replacing the equipment altogether or repairing the problem. While simply repairing is an option, there are several reasons why replacing the equipment is far better.
When comparing the price of repair or replacement, it’s important to consider the current and projected cost of each refrigerant, as well the continued operation of the system. R-22 is being phased out, which means its price will skyrocket as supply dwindles. The EPA stated in the Montreal Protocol that U.S. production of R-22 will be reduced by 99.5% from the baseline by 2020. Basically, the only available R-22 refrigerant after 2020 will be whatever is recycled from other older systems. In comparison, 410-A will be cheap and easy to get.
Additionally, your current system will become less efficient and become prone to more frequent breakdowns as it ages. Investing in equipment that will become obsolete in its lifetime means you’ll find yourself paying more for the decision to keep R-22 refrigerant in the future as the cost to keep your unit in service increases exponentially.
Remember that your AC is a long-term investment. A pinch of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
Most R-22 freon equipment operates at an efficiency of 13 SEER or lower, with the majority being nine SEER units that are around 10 years old. By matching these units with a 410-A condenser you have the opportunity to reach 14.5 SEER. If you add a high-efficiency furnace or air handler, you’ll be able to reach efficiencies of 20 SEER or more. By upgrading your equipment to properly matched systems, you may be able to double your cooling efficiency. With 40% of your average utility bill devoted to heating and cooling your home, this means a significant reduction in utility costs. Over the course of the equipment’s life, this constitutes a decent amount of payoff for your investment.
R-22 is Ozone-depleting, meaning it actively harms the environment when released into the atmosphere. While 410-A isn’t as clean as solar or wind energy (it is still a chemical), it is much less harmful than R-22. This is a big step in the right direction for cooling technology. With time and innovation, we will be able to cool our homes without influencing the environment at all, but 410-A is the best option until then.
Clearly, it’s time to move away from R-22 in favor of a refrigerant that’s better for everyone. That’s why Mission AC is here to make the process as easy for you as possible. If your AC still uses R-22, contact us today and begin your service request.