If you own an air conditioner that uses R-22 (also known as Freon), you’ve probably heard about a “ban” on this refrigerant that’s taking place in 2020. You’ve also probably accumulated a lot of questions in the meantime, such as what this ban actually restricts and how it might affect you.
To clear up some of the confusion, we’ve compiled answers to some frequently asked questions about the R-22 phaseout and the upcoming restrictions we can all expect in 2020.
Is there going to be a ban on R-22 in 2020?
ANSWER: The term “ban” can be somewhat misleading in this particular instance because it implies that all R-22 would be outlawed everywhere. That is not what will be taking place.
Restrictions regarding R-22 have already been in place for quite some time to begin gradually phasing out this refrigerant. Once 2020 arrives, it will be illegal to manufacture new supplies of R-22 in the U.S., and it will also be illegal to import new supplies of R-22 into the U.S. These restrictions do not apply to supplies of R-22 already in existence.
Will I still be able to use my air conditioner in 2020 if it uses R-22?
ANSWER: Yes. Once 2020 arrives, you will still be able to use your air conditioner just like before. You will not be required to replace it. While the goal is to phase out R-22, the regulations have been designed to allow the change to happen gradually.
Will I still be able to get my air conditioner serviced or repaired in 2020 if it contains R-22?
ANSWER: Yes. There is no legal restriction against getting your air conditioner serviced or repaired with R-22 as long as it’s a pre-existing supply of R-22. Just keep in mind that the restrictions placed on the manufacturing and importing of new R-22 will make the pre-existing supplies of R-22 increasingly limited in the future. This means that the demand for those supplies will rise and make them harder to find and more costly.
How can I find out if my air conditioner contains R-22?
ANSWER: If your air conditioner was manufactured on or after January 1, 2010, it will not contain R-22 because of the manufacturing regulations that were in place at the time. However, if your air conditioner was manufactured before that date, it’s a good idea to check its refrigerant type to avoid any surprises.
If you can’t locate the owner’s manual, go outside and check your AC’s condenser. The refrigerant type is often listed on the nameplate. If the refrigerant is not listed there, make note of your AC’s model number so that you can either look up the unit online or contact the manufacturer. You might also be able to find out the refrigerant type from whoever sold you your air conditioner or from an HVAC company that recently serviced or repaired your system.
Can I switch refrigerants if my air conditioner uses R-22?
ANSWER: Before your air conditioner can accept a refrigerant other than R-22 (such as R-410A), your AC will need to be retrofitted. Whether this will be the best option for you will depend on the cost of retrofitting versus the cost of a new, energy-efficient air conditioner that can meet your home’s cooling needs.
If you are concerned about the environmental impact of the R-22 in your air conditioner, keep an eye out for refrigerant leaks so that you can get them repaired in a timely manner. Refrigerant leaks not only decrease your AC’s ability to operate efficiently, but they also increase refrigerant emissions.
Curious about how much cooling/heating savings you could earn in 5, 10, and 15 years with a more energy-efficient system? Check out our Energy Savings Calculator!