You may have heard about a Freon shortage in 2012. Unfortunately, the news is true. Because of the Environmental Protection Agency’s projected decreases in the environmentally unfriendly refrigerant called R-22 (or Freon), current production numbers have set off a supply and demand problem, resulting in a significant increase in prices.
Many countries have agreed to help protect the ozone layer from substances that might cause deterioration, causing industries across the board to create new environmentally friendly products — from fuel to refrigerants. As a result, heating and cooling manufacturers have had to reduce their production of R-22, used by an estimated 85 percent of household air conditioning systems — along with commercial refrigeration equipment. It’s being replaced with a new refrigerant that is much more friendly to the ozone layer in our atmosphere, called R-410A.
What’s unique about 2012?
Well, the EPA has set certain guidelines for the reduction of R-22, and this year marks a significant reduction in its production. In addition, these guidelines coincide with federal regulations that prohibit manufacturers from producing any new cooling equipment that containing R-22.
All of these factors have created the perfect storm for homeowners whose existing air conditioning equipment uses R-22, because supply and demand have jacked up the price of Freon significantly — 2 or 3 times in some areas.
What can a homeowner do?
The best long-term option for homeowners is to upgrade to new A/C equipment, which uses R-410A. But this requires a significant upfront investment, one that many homeowners can't afford to make right now.
The other option is to schedule annual maintenance for your cooling equipment soon, in order to make sure that its properly charged with refrigerant and doesn't have any leaks. You’ll probably pay more for a refrigerant charge, but doing so now will help you beat the rush — and likely higher prices — later on.
For expert advice and to weigh keeping your present air conditioner in the face of a R-22 shortage against a high-efficiency upgrade, contact P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling. We've served Northeast Ohio since 1936.
Paul Wadsworth is the President and Owner of P.K. Wadsworth Heating and Cooling. For 37 years, Paul has been providing heating and cooling services to the Greater Cleveland area. P.K. Wadsworth has been a trusted Cleveland HVAC service company for 75 years. The company understand the area's construction and local heating and air conditioning needs. Paul has an MBA from the University of Michigan and a B.S., Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. He's been President of the Cleveland Air Conditioning Contractors of America and a founding member of the local chapter. Paul was born and raised in Cleveland and has been active in the local community. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and two sons.
The opinions and statements contained in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not instructions. Only trained, licensed and experienced personnel should attempt installation/repair. The author assumes no liability for the opinions/statements made in this article. Any individual attempting a repair or installation based on this article does so at their own risk of loss.