Freon Alternatives: The Near Future of Your Air-Conditioning Unit
Recycling, riding bikes, opting for reusable bags - these are just some of the practices that green-conscious Buckhead homeowners commonly employ. Choosing Freon alternatives is another way to lessen your carbon footprint. And with the federal government phasing out the use of the substance, eventually all homeowners will have to look into Freon alternatives.
Freon, also referred to as R-22, is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon, or HCFC. HCFCs contain harmful substances like fluorine and carbon, which are known to greatly contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer. As a result of the 1987 Montreal Protocol, the U.S. and other countries have agreed to phase out ozone-depleting substances, a process that began in 2004. By 2020, the total consumption of any chlorofluorocarbon-derived substance will be restricted to 99.5 percent of the established baseline allowed by the phaseout program.
The primary way that the phaseout affects homeowners in our region, and across the country, has to do with air conditioning. Only air conditioners that were manufactured prior to 2010 use R-22. If you have one of those systems, you may be wondering if you’re required to buy a new one. Here’s what you need to know:
- Owners of systems that use R-22 can keep their air conditioners. However, the phaseout calls for a reduction in the amount of manufactured items using R-22. As a result, R-22 may soon become costly and hard to find. (You can get more information about what’s available from Casteel Heating, Cooling and Plumbing on our website.)
- If you’re worried about the environmental effects of running your existing Freon-powered A/C unit, the best practice that you should take is to service it regularly to keep it in good operating condition. Your HVAC technician will check the refrigerant lines during maintenance for leaks and will charge the system with Freon if needed. If the system is leaking, however, you’ll need to have the relevant part replaced, if possible, or face having to purchase a whole new system.
- When you’re ready to replace your A/C unit, you won’t be able to buy Freon-powered models - unless you buy a model that was made before 2010. The Environmental Protection Agency has outlined safer Freon alternatives, and most manufacturers are using R-410A, a more environmentally-friendly refrigerant. R-410A and other refrigerants such as R-404A and R-407C are all considered to be safer and cleaner than Freon or R-22 refrigerants. New models are largely using those alternatives.
- You can bypass the use of refrigerants altogether by choosing an evaporative cooling system, an A/C system that runs on water. Instead of using refrigerants, this type of unit uses evaporation to release cool air into the home.
For more information about the dangers of Freon, or if you’re ready to upgrade your A/C, contact Casteel. We’re happy to walk you through the options outlined by the phaseout and help you get the most value from your investment.