The price of R-22, which we often refer to as freon, is jumping. The Air Conditioning Contractors of America state that the price increase is being caused by a sudden reduction in supply due primarily to changes in government regulations. That means you could pay two or three times what it cost last year to recharge your system with coolant. R-22 has been on the way out as a refrigerant for some time now, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tries to eliminate the coolant completely. New air conditioning systems manufactured after 2010 were not allowed to use R-22. There are a number of alternative refrigerants approved by the EPA, but the most common is R-410A. However, R-410A cannot be substituted directly into an older system designed for R-22. So there’s no easy way around the shortage of R-22, which is expected to last well into the summer months.
As the price of R-22 increases, it may also tip the balance to replacing an older system with a new R-410A system. The EPA states on its website,
“Even if your air conditioner is only 10 years old, you may save significantly on your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model. Products with EPA’s Energy Star® label can save homeowners 10% to 40% on their heating and cooling bills every year.”
If you are faced with a major repair which will include recharging your system, you’d be wise to ask how much it would cost to replace the system instead. New systems provide warranties, energy savings and have design changes that help remove more humidity from your home to increase your comfort.