Michigan homeowners who have had to buy refrigerant for their old air conditioning systems this year have faced a bit of sticker shock: R-22 Freon prices have roughly tripled in 2012.
The big increase in R-22 Freon prices is a result of supply and demand: though demand hasn’t changed much from last year, the supply has been drastically cut. Because of environmental concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency is reducing the amount of newly produced “virgin” R-22 that can be sold each year. By 2020, no virgin R-22 will be allowed at all; the country’s supply will have to come from recycling the R-22 present in old air conditioners as they are retired.
Though new air conditioners today do not use R-22 Freon, around 80 percent of the A/C units still in operation do require the chemical. If you are part of the 80 percent, the experts at
Team Bob’s Heating Cooling Plumbing have some options to consider:
- Keep your existing air conditioner in shape: Air conditioners do not require additional refrigerant if they are working perfectly; you only have to pay the higher R-22 Freon prices if the unit leaks or if a part breaks down and releases the gas to the atmosphere. Proper maintenance can extend the life of your A/C and save you money overall.
- Upgrade your air conditioner to use a different refrigerant: R-22 Freon’s replacements, such as R-410A, operate under higher pressures. Converting your existing A/C to use a different refrigerant therefore requires replacing many of the main parts, and it often makes more sense to simply replace the whole system.
- Replace your air conditioner: Besides using refrigerants that are less expensive, easier to find and better for the environment than R-22 Freon, new air conditioners usually have better efficiency ratings than older units. The combined savings on your electric bills and your repair costs can, over time, more than pay for installing a new system.
At Team Bob’s Heating Cooling Plumbing in Traverse City, we can handle all of your home-comfort needs. Contact us today for help with evaluating your air conditioning options.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about the rising Freon prices and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.