Cost of Another Commodity to Soar This Summer

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Service Experts sees phase-out of freon driving up the cost of air conditioning repair, but cheaper alternatives could be costly in the long run.

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"Using a cheaper alternative to R-22, or Freon, could be costly in the long-run."

The price at the gas pump isn’t the only increase impacting consumers this spring. The cost of the common refrigerant R-22 (also known as Freon™), widely used in residential air conditioning systems, has already increased dramatically this year and is expected to go even higher this summer, making air conditioning repairs more costly for many.

R-22 has been the refrigerant of choice for residential heat pump and air conditioning systems for more than four decades, but it has been identified as having a negative environmental impact, including contributing to ozone depletion. Under EPA regulations, R-22 is being phased out, with production totally prohibited after 2020.

This has added new variables for homeowners considering repairing or replacing an air conditioning unit. For instance, some refrigerant manufacturers have begun selling cheaper alternatives to R-22, often referred to as “drop-in” replacement refrigerants. But Dave Moody, Field Marketing Director for Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, says the alternatives are cheaper only in the short run. “Lennox®, one of the leading air conditioning manufacturers, has conducted research that shows these cheaper alternate refrigerants are not compatible with the lubricating oil used in R-22 units. Recharging older air conditioners with these alternative refrigerants may actually damage the system and void your manufacturer’s warranty."

“As a result, we’ve instructed our 2,500 technicians to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and use only R-22 when they recharge R-22 systems,” said Moody.

Moody also points out that reclaimed and recycled R-22 is expected to be available to repair existing systems after production ceases in 2020, but as the supply of new R-22 refrigerant continues to be reduced, costs of both new and recycled R-22 refrigerant will increase significantly.

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

All new air conditioning systems now use a more environmentally friendly refrigerant, R410A. These systems offer many benefits, including greater energy efficiency, longer warranty periods and quieter operation, and may prove to be the wiser investment when homeowners are faced with reparing an older system that uses R-22 refrigerant.

“There is no one-size-fits-all answer about whether to repair or replace your R-22 AC,” said Moody. “It really does depend on the individual family, their home, their lifestyle and their budget. Service Experts technicians are trained to spend considerable time working through all these factors with our customers and help them make the most informed decision, and we’re happy to answer homeowner questions on this topic.”

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Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, based in Dallas, Texas, is North America's largest heating and air conditioning brand, with over 108 locations serving more than 2,100 homes and businesses per day. Service Experts branches provide heating repair, air conditioning repair, indoor air quality sales, HVAC system sales and installation, HVAC maintenance and HVAC repair service for both the residential and commercial HVAC markets. Find Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning at on.fb.me/serviceexperts or at ServiceExperts.com.

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Karla Neely
kneely@calisepartners.com
214.269.2196
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