The year 2010 marks an important U.S. milestone for ozone protection with the phase out of R-22, an ozone depleting refrigerant used in some new air-conditioning systems for more than four decades.
Prior to R-410A refrigerant, most residential air conditioners and heat pumps used R-22 refrigerant, a chlorine-containing refrigerant that can contribute to depletion of the earth’s ozone layer, according to the KTH-EGI Phase out of R-22 Refrigerant Study.
Beginning in 2010, the U.S. will require all residential air conditioner and heat pump manufacturers to produce systems that use only non-ozone-depleting refrigerants in accordance with the U.S. Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.
Although the Clean Air Act allows for R-22 to be manufactured in diminishing quantities through 2020 to service existing systems, published reports indicate that service demands may outstrip supply by 2015; potentially causing the price for this refrigerant to rise dramatically as availability declines, similar to what occurred in the automotive industry with the phase-out of R-12.
Because of the potential increase in the price of R-22 and the impending total phase out, consumers considering a new home comfort system should consider the unit’s refrigerant much as they would a SEER rating or ENERGY STAR label.
By choosing higher efficiency air-conditioner and heat pump equipment that use R-410A refrigerant, consumers will be able to enjoy lower operating costs and environmentally sound operation while protecting themselves from potentially rising service costs associated with R-22 based systems.
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