Archive for March, 2012

Air Conditioner Refrigerant Costs See Large Increase

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

The cost of the R22 refrigerant used in many air conditioner and heat pump systems has increased substantially this year, thanks to reduced production and an environmentally-based phase out. “It’s really quite a large increase, considering what we’re used to,” said Laurie Schumann, President of Comfort Central, Inc.

Air conditioning systems and heat pumps have relied on a refrigerant called R-22 for decades to keep homes cool or warm. R-22 is also been known by the trade name Freon. In recent years, R-22 has been the subject of environmental concerns because of ozone-depletion, and a phase-out has been underway for some time. In fact, as of 2010, manufacturers were no longer allowed to produce home comfort systems that used this refrigerant.

At this time, manufacturers are limited by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to producing 45% less R-22 than they did last year. With the supply-and-demand principle in play, if there is less refrigerant available, costs will increase. The EPA could raise that limit this summer, but until they do, homeowners face a high price tag for replacing any leaking refrigerant. Mrs. Schumann also warns, “some of our vendors are talking of rationing our purchases, meaning it may not even be available for us to provide.”

“A lot of our customers have systems that use Freon,” Mrs. Schumann said. “If these systems incur a leak, they’re going to be looking at a significant amount to replace the refrigerant. In some instances, it may make more sense to upgrade to an energy-efficient system that uses an environmentally-conscious refrigerant. With that option, you can save money every month on your energy costs as well as avoid the high cost of maintaining and operating an older, inefficient system.”

Comfort Central, Inc. encourages homeowners and business owners to have their systems checked early this year. Preventive Maintenance checks will help identify those systems that could be impacted by this R-22 development. Considering this very warm winter and what is promising to be a warm spring, they stress it would be best to address the potential shortages before the summer heat hits. Especially vulnerable are those customers who have to add refrigerant each year.

For more information regarding EPA’s R-22 impact decision, you may visit http://www.hardinet.org/blog/r-22-update or if you have any questions on how this may impact you, contact Comfort Central today.