Is your current air conditioning system cooling your home in danger of extinction? Since 2010, all new air conditioning and heat pump units manufactured in North America have been required to use chlorine-free refrigerants. If you have an air conditioner that is more than a few years old, it is probably using an R-22 Freon refrigerant. This is a coolant that is thought to deplete the ozone layer.

All of the major residential HVAC equipment manufacturers now manufacture AC units using the new R-410A refrigerant. R-410A is an environmentally friendly, next-generation refrigerant. Many previously-used refrigerants (including R-22) contain chlorine, a chemical which is considered harmful to the ozone layer.

As the government continues to force the phase-out of R-22 production over the next ten years, prices for R-22 are continued to rise. For homeowners who still use, R-22, they are finding that the costs are being passed along to them.

There are several benefits of the new R-411A refrigerant:

  • R-410A does not contribute to ozone depletion.
  • Air conditioning systems that now use R-410A have a higher EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) for increased heat pump efficiency.
  • Parts that are compatible with R-410A will be available well into the future, but production of R-22 units ended in 2010. If you are installing a new air conditioner or heat pump, be sure that the new unit uses R-410A refrigerant, as parts for R-22 will become increasingly scarce.

New AC equipment is specially designed for the higher operating pressures of R-410A. That means that your old condenser and system needs to be replaced if you decide to switch from the old R-22 refrigerant.

As old AC systems are phased out and replaced, there is a good chance that there will be a niche market for R-22 parts and repair. In other words, over the years the older systems are going to become harder and more expensive to repair.

Homeowners and business owners buying a new AC system should ask for an air conditioner or heat pump that uses the more efficient and environmentally friendlier R-410A refrigerant. When you buy a system using R-410A, you future-proof your investment and virtually eliminate the possibility that any leaking refrigerant from your system will contribute to ozone layer depletion.

Many homeowners can improve cooling efficiency without equipment-related changes. For example, rinsing dirt from the condenser fins of the outside unit, changing filters routinely and raising the thermostat when not at home all help save energy and money.

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