About 25 years ago, the EPA ordered the phasing out of R-22 as part of the international treaty on protecting the ozone layer called the “Montreal Protocol”, because of the refrigerant’s ozone-depleting substances.
As part of the agreement, production ended in 2010 for new air conditioning units “charged” with R-22 and production of the refrigerant itself was reduced by 75%. As of 2015, R-22 production has dropped 90%. By 2020, it will no longer be produced at all. Because production is limited, costs to charge existing units that are leaking R-22 refrigerant have gone up and are only expected to rise.
A number of highly rated heating and cooling contractors on Angie’s List have said depending on how much of a supply they have and how much they paid when they purchased it, these companies are charging three and four times the cost they were just a few years ago.
Don’t Ignore that Coolant Leak
It’s important to look at the bigger issue here. Really, R-22 should never need to be replaced. If your system needs R-22, it is because of a leak in the system. Rather than continuing to pay these increased costs to replenish the leaking R-22, find a qualified heating and cooling company to repair the leak.
A reputable HVAC technician can also advise you if it makes sense to continue investing in your existing unit, or if you’re better off replacing the A/C. As these freon costs continue to rise, you might find you’re better off replacing your old R-22 unit with one that uses the more environmentally friendly R-410 refrigerant, so you’ll have to replace the entire system.
The good news is that, if you do invest in a new unit, it will be more environmentally friendly and more energy efficient. You’ll save money on your monthly cooling costs, as those long-term savings can really add up.