Damage from CFCs & HCFCs
In the past, many people were unaware of the potential harm that chemicals can cause on our environment; but today, due to advances in technology and more research being conducted, we have a much better understanding of their harmful effects. In the 1980’s, scientists noticed that the stratospheric ozone layer, which is critical for life to be sustainable on earth (the layer in our atmosphere that protects Earth from the sun’s harmful UV rays) was getting thinner. Scientists found that CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) were huge factors in the thinning of the stratospheric ozone layer. One way they could protect this layer was by reducing the consumption of these refrigerants and hopefully even disposing of them completely.
In 1987, an international environmental agreement called the Montreal Protocol created requirements that would begin the worldwide phase-out of ozone depleting CFCs. By 1996, CFC production in all developed countries was strictly prohibited. While HCFCs are less damaging than CFCs, they still contain ozone-destroying chlorine that is threatening to the stratosphere’s ozone layer. So in 1992, the Montreal Protocol created a schedule to begin the phase out of HCFCs as well. The image below shows the timeframe for the eventual discontinuation of the use of HCFCs. The process is spread out over a long period of time to give consumers a chance to adapt gradually to this change.
HCFC has been the most popular choice of refrigerant used for residential heat pumps and air conditioning systems over the past few decades. This refrigerant can be used in a variety of equipment such as window AC units, dehumidifiers, central AC units, air-to-air heat pumps, ground source heat pumps, ductless air conditioners and many more.
How Ban Affects You, the Consumer
R22 is among the top mostly commonly-used refrigerants for HVAC equipment, so it is very likely that you have equipment in your home using R22. As the image below explains, the U.S. is reducing consumption of HCFCs by dramatically as time goes on. In 2020, not only will production of R22 be stopped, but importing will no longer be permitted. This means the only way to obtain the refrigerant will be by buying recovered and recycled R22. With production and importing of the refrigerant coming to a standstill, supply will no longer be enough to cover the demand. This will create not only a dramatic increase in price, but also make it harder to find the product to run the equipment. In 2030, there will be a complete ban on use of R22 refrigerant. By this point in time, consumers will need to replace all equipment using this refrigerant with new equipment powered by more environmentally-friendly resources.
Even though you do not legally have to make the switch of your equipment today, it would be beneficial for you if you did! Newer models can save you significant amounts of money in energy costs for your home or business. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) recently began to start labeling efficient equipment with an Energy Star sticker. According to the EPA, this equipment can save homeowners anywhere from 10% to 40% on heating and cooling bill every year! Not only will it save you money, but by switching you will also be helping our environment by ridding it of unnecessary chemicals. Plus, as mentioned earlier, in 2020 it will be extremely difficult and expensive to obtain R22 refrigerant, and in 2030, use of this equipment will no longer be permitted.
Contact UGI Heating, Cooling & Plumbing
As HVAC technicians, it is our job to make our customers aware of these changes. We no longer install heating and cooling systems that use R22 to operate. If you have any questions about this new regulation or would be interested in switching over now, give us a call at 1-877-844-4822. Here at UGI Heating, Cooling & Plumbing we are happy to assist you with anything you need involving the switch!