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13 SEER Air Conditioning Regulations
As of January 23, 2006, the U.S. Department of Energy is requiring that central air conditioners and heat pumps meet an efficiency rating of 13 SEER or above. Most homes have systems rated at 8 or 10 SEER. When these systems must be replaced, they will have to be replaced with 13 SEER rated equipment, which is much larger and heavier than the equipment being replaced. Unfortunately, to accommodate the larger, heavier equipment, many homes will require substantial and costly modifications to the coil, gas lines, line sets, valves, transitions, plenum, electrical, pads, stands, and more.
Important Regulations Governing the HVAC Industry
What Does the R22 Phaseout Mean for Consumers?
The Clean Air Act does not allow any refrigerant to be vented into the atmosphere during installation, service, or retirement of equipment. Therefore, R-22 must be recovered and recycled (for reuse in the same system), reclaimed (reprocessed to the same purity levels as new R-22), or destroyed. After 2020, the servicing of R-22-based systems will rely on recycled refrigerants. It is expected that reclamation and recycling will ensure that existing supplies of R-22 will last longer and be available to service a greater number of systems. As noted above, chemical manufacturers will be able to produce R-22 for use in new A/C equipment until 2010, and they can continue production of R-22 until 2020 for use in servicing that equipment. Given this schedule, the transition away from R-22 to the use of ozone-friendly refrigerants should be smooth. For the next 15 years or more, R-22 should continue to be available for all systems that require R-22 for servicing.
Cost of R22
While consumers should be aware that prices of R-22 may increase as supplies dwindle over the next 20 or 30 years, EPA believes that consumers are not likely to be subjected to major price increases within a short time period. Although there is no guarantee that service costs of R-22 will not increase, the lengthy phaseout period for R-22 means that market conditions should not be greatly affected by the volatility and resulting refrigerant price hikes that have characterized the phaseout of R-12, the refrigerant used in automotive air-conditioning systems.
Background Ban on Production and Imports of Ozone Depleting Refrigerants
An HCFC known as R-22 has been the refrigerant of choice for residential heat pump and air-conditioning systems for more than four decades. Unfortunately for the environment, releases of R-22, such as those from leaks, contribute to ozone depletion. In addition, R-22 is a greenhouse gas and the manufacture of R-22 results in a by-product (HFC-23) that contributes significantly to global warming. As the manufacture of R-22 is phased out over the coming years as part of the agreement to end production of HCFCs, manufacturers of residential air conditioning systems are offering equipment that uses ozone-friendly refrigerants. Many homeowners may be misinformed about how much longer R-22 will be available to service their central A/C systems and heat pumps. This fact sheet provides information about the transition away from R-22, the future availability of R-22, and the new refrigerants that are replacing R-22. This document also assists consumers in deciding what to consider when purchasing a new A/C system or heat pump, or when having an existing system repaired.
 
Phaseout for HCFCs Including R22
Under the terms of the Montreal Protocol, the U.S. agreed to meet certain obligations by specific dates that will affect the residential heat pump and air-conditioning industry:
The Montreal Protocol required the U.S. to reduce its consumption by 35 percent below the baseline cap by January 1, 2004. As of January 1, 2003, EPA banned production and import of HCFC-141b, the HCFC with the highest ODP. This action allowed the United States to meet its obligations under the Montreal Protocol. EPA also issued baseline allowances for production and import of HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b. EPA allocated 100 percent of the U.S. consumption and production caps by allocating both consumption and production allowances to individual companies for HCFC-141b, HCFC-22, and HCFC-142b.
The Montreal Protocol required the U.S. to reduce its consumption by 35 percent below the baseline cap by January 1, 2004.
After 2010, chemical manufacturers may still produce R-22 to service existing equipment, but not for use in new equipment. As a result, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system manufacturers will only be able to use pre-existing supplies of R-22 to produce new air conditioners and heat pumps. These existing supplies would include R-22 recovered from existing equipment and recycled.
Can service and repair only from existing equipment and supplies.
Use of existing refrigerant, including refrigerant that has been recovered and recycled, will be allowed beyond 2020 to service existing systems, but chemical manufacturers will no longer be able to produce R-22 to service existing air conditioners and heat pumps.
EPA's Frequently Asked Questions Learn More from the EPA on the Phaseout Schedule
Alternatives to R22 in Residential Air Conditioning
As R-22 is gradually phased out, non-ozone-depleting alternative refrigerants are being introduced. Under the Clean Air Act, EPA reviews alternatives to ozone-depleting substances like R-22 in order to evaluate their effects on human health and the environment. EPA has reviewed several of these alternatives to R-22 and has compiled a list of substitutes that EPA has determined are acceptable. One of these substitutes is R-410A, a blend of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), substances that do not contribute to depletion of the ozone layer, but, like R-22, contribute to global warming. R-410A is manufactured and sold under various trade names, including GENETRON AZ-20®, SUVA 410A®, and Puron®. Additional refrigerants on the list of acceptable substitutes include R-134a and R-407C. These two refrigerants are not yet available for residential applications in the U.S., but are commonly found in residential A/C systems and heat pumps in Europe. EPA will continue to review new non-ozone-depleting refrigerants as they are developed.
Servicing Existing HVAC Units Installing New HVAC Units
Existing units using R-22 can continue to be serviced with R-22. There is no EPA requirement to change or convert R-22 units for use with a non-ozone-depleting substitute refrigerant. In addition, the new substitute refrigerants cannot be used without making some changes to system components. As a result, service technicians who repair leaks to the system will continue to charge R-22 into the system as part of that repair. The transition away from ozone-depleting R-22 to systems that rely on replacement refrigerants like R-410A has required redesign of heat pump and air conditioning systems. New systems incorporate compressors and other components specifically designed for use with specific replacement refrigerants. With these significant product and production process changes, testing and training must also change. Consumers should be aware that dealers of systems that use substitute refrigerants should be schooled in installation and service techniques required for use of that substitute refrigerant.
Breakview Heating and Air, Inc. Breakview Heating and Air Inc. offers a variety of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning services to
suit both commercial and residential needs.
We offer a customized maintenance plan to meet your individual needs. We recommend the use of our maintenance plans With regular preventative service on your heating and air system, it will run at peak efficiency and minimize repairs. In having a maintenance plan, you will receive energy savings minimized repair costs which will result in a monetary savings for you. Contact us to schedule your savings today!
R22 Phaseout Schedule R22 Phaseout Schedule R22 Phaseout Schedule
R22 Phaseout Schedule R22 Phaseout Schedule R22 Phaseout Schedule
R22 Phaseout Schedule R22 Phaseout Schedule R22 Phaseout Schedule
R22 Phaseout Schedule R22 Phaseout Schedule R22 Phaseout Schedule
R22 Phaseout Schedule R22 Phaseout Schedule R22 Phaseout Schedule
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