On a hot, muggy Austin day, the last thing you want to hear is that your air conditioner may start costing you big bucks in the near future. According to a new report, Freon (the chemical that keeps you cool) will be banned next year. What does this mean for you? Keep reading to find out all about the upcoming farewell to Freon.
What is Freon?
Freon is the common name for HCFC-22 and R-22, which are chemicals often used as refrigerants (the stuff that your HVAC uses to cool the air). Freon has been the industry standard refrigerant in AC units since the 1950s, so there’s a good chance you can thank Freon for that nice, cold air on a hot Austin day.
Why is Freon being banned?
Beginning January 1, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will ban the manufacturing and import of Freon. The EPA banned the production of HVAC systems that use Freon in 2010, but now, they’re taking it a step further. Why? Because Freon is an ODS – or ozone depleting substance – and is very damaging to the environment.
How do I know if my AC uses Freon?
Check your AC unit by looking for a sticker or nameplate on the side with either HCFC-22 or R-22. No nameplate or sticker? If you know the manufacturer and model number, hop online and check the manufacturer’s website (or do it the old-fashioned way and give them a call). You can also check your owner’s manual or contact the company that services your AC. As I mentioned before, if your AC was bought prior to 2010, there’s a good chance it uses Freon.
What should I do if my AC uses Freon?
Don’t panic – the good news is that you don’t have to run out and buy a new AC unit. You can continue using your AC unit, even if it uses Freon. Just be aware that supplies of Freon will become more limited in the years ahead since it’s being phased out of production. This means that it will be more expensive as well.
If you don’t like the idea of ruining the ozone layer, you can retrofit your current unit to run with an EPA approved refrigerants (they have an entire list of alternatives). Or you can replace your equipment with a brand new unit that is ozone-friendly.
And if you decide to keep your current AC unit, you can still limit your impact on the ozone layer by maintaining it properly. If your AC leaks, ask your service technician to find and repair the leak instead of just adding more Freon to “top it off.” This will save you bucks in the long run, too!