BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – If your air conditioning needs a re-charge this summer, get ready to pay a lot more. “We’ve had a 300 percent increase,” explains Phillip Smitherman of AUX Mechanical. He says new regulations from the EPA are to blame as the old R22 refrigerant is phased out for environmental reasons. That is the freon used on all older model air conditioners which are more than ten years old.
“We constantly find ourselves in the defensive mode saying this isn’t us. This is mandated phase out by the government. As we all know the price is paid by the end user. Somewhere, somehow it trickles down to you and I,” says Smitherman. A sudden acceleration of the original 2020 phase out sent the cost through the roof catching many off guard. A canister of R22 that cost $40 dollars two years ago is now up to $400.
For many it may be cheaper in the long run to go ahead and upgrade with a new unit. “If a piece of equipment is over ten years old, that’s where the consumer should look at a replacement over a repair,” recommends Smitherman. Newer models will use R-410-A which is cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
The EPA is phasing out R-22 freon, which damages the ozone layer. By 2020 it will be illegal to make this type of refrigerant.