About 25 years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated that R22, also known as Freon, be phased out because it contains ozone depleting substances. This action by the EPA was prompted by an international treaty, known as the Montreal Protocol. Stiff penalties, including fines and even imprisonment, may be levied against companies not complying with the EPA rules regarding use of R22.
R22 is a high capacity, efficient refrigerant that has been the standard choice for commercial HVAC for several decades. However, beginning in 2010, production of R22 was reduced by 75%. By 2015, production dropped by 90%. By 2020, production of R22 is scheduled to stop completely. Since many consumers have multiple viable units utilizing this refrigerant, there is still a demand for supplies. Consumers with R22 units still under warranty must continue to use this refrigerant or invalidate their warranties. There is no EPA ruling that requires the replacement of these units at this time. Any leaks must be closely monitored and repaired per the EPA standard.
That being said, the law of supply and demand leads us to the current predicament. Since January 2012, the cost of R22 has increased by around 800%. Replacement of R22 today costs 4 times what it did just 3-4 years ago. By the time production ceases entirely, it is likely that a skyrocketing price jump will occur. It is difficult for service providers to absorb this type of staggering increase, and consumer end price hikes should also be expected.
There are several alternatives to R22 use for your HVAC system. The size, age, and application of the equipment are key factors to be considered before making any changes.
The service specialists @ Monadnock Cooling Systems are qualified to assess your current situation and make appropriate recommendations. Contact us @ 603 924-2513 for additional information on this topic.