Older Air Conditioners May Need To Be Replaced Due To New EPA Coolant Regulations

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made changes to federal air conditioner coolant regulations that may force some homeowners to make the costly decision of whether to repair or replace a broken air conditioner.

While that might sound counter-intuitive, it may be more economical to replace your A/C rather than have it repaired if it’s more than two years old and requires a coolant recharge.

EPA protocols call for the phase-out of R-22 refrigerant, which was widely used prior to 2010, because of its harmful effects on the ozone layer. That coolant will be completely phased out by 2020 and will be replaced with a more environment-friendly, non-ozone-depleting coolant, R-410A.

Manufacturers stopped making air conditioners with R-22 in 2010; all new units now use R-410A. R-22 is no longer manufactured, and due to the lack of availability, prices for replacement R-22 coolant have skyrocketed over the last two years.

What used to cost $30 as recently as two years ago, R-22 now costs as much as $175.00 for the first pound, and $90.00 for each additional pound needed (versus $10.00 two years ago.) And that’s on top of the cost of service, labor and any other parts needed.

HVAC service technicians now save leftover R-22 coolant from older units, if any, when they are replaced, so that it can be re-used in other old equipment that may that need it. The scarcer R-22 becomes, the more expensive it will be.

“Some homeowners will need to think seriously about replacing their units with newer ones that use the new coolant,” Hicks went on to say. “This isn’t entirely bad news. The newer units are more environmentally friendly and more efficient. Heating and cooling accounts for 54 percent of your home’s yearly energy costs, so long-term savings can really add up.”

For more information, read Air Conditioners & Energy Efficiency on the Thiele Heating & Air Conditioning website.

So, repair or replace? It’s not as easy a decision to make as it once was. If you need help to determine your course of action, give us call at (317) 639-1111. Our skilled inspectors can show you what it would cost to repair your old air conditioner vs. the cost to replace it with a new, energy-efficient AC system, including how reduced energy usage can offset the replacement cost in just a few years.

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