Why Freon Is So Expensive
If you’ve ever needed to have your air conditioner recharged or had a small leak which needed a repair, you may have been in for an unpleasant surprise: a bill that’s immensely high for seemingly no reason. If you have an older system, this is particularly common for one reason: the refrigerant that your system uses to facilitate heat transfer. Most older systems run on R-22 refrigerant, or “Freon” as it is more common commonly known. To put it simplly, the cost of Freon as a material has skyrocketed, which in turn causers the cost of your maintenance or repair service to also rise to compensate.
Whereas a pound of a modern refrigerant can run from anywhere between $10 and $40 each, R22 Freon has become so rare and difficult to find that prices can now run from $80 to $110 and only continue to rise with each passing month. Why is this substance now so expensive? Our blog will look into this issue and tell you how you can avoid this cost in the future.
R-22 Isn’t Being Produced Anymore
R-22 was the go-to choice for refrigerant in air conditioners for years. Every system had it, from your home to your office to even your car. It was the best at what it did, and thus it was manufactured like crazy and found just about everywhere. However, R-22 is a toxic substance, which means it could be dangerous to your health if you’re exposed to it. Likewise, it actually contributes to ozone layer decay, which further harms the planet. It was these qualities of Freon which caused the EPA to order it to be phased out of use approximately 30 years ago.
Fast forward a couple of decades to 2010: the EPA instituted another step on this crackdown and banned the import and production of heating and air conditioning systems which came pre-charged with R-22. From this point forward, all new systems that were sold and installed in the U.S. had to be charged with a different substance. At the same time, the EPA also ordered a roughly 75 percent reduction in R-22 production in the country and by 2015 that reduction was up to 90 percent.
Today, almost no new Freon is manufactured simply because it’s not legal to use in so many instances and only a select few HVAC service companies have the elevated licenses needed in order to legally sell and work with the stuff. Soon, R-22 will no longer be used anywhere in the country.
Why the Ban Affects Your Price
So why does this ban on Freon make it so expensive? Because Freon is becoming so hard to find, the cost to buy it has surged. The overwhelming majority of Freon found on the market today is actually reclaimed, which means it isn’t even new and it still goes for well over double or even triple the price of a different, modern refrigerant. It’s the principle of supply and demand—as the supply has dropped, the price has surged, and will continue to surge until the demand for it disappears.
Avoiding the High Price of Freon
If you have a Freon-based system, there’s something simple you can do to avoid having to bear this tremendous expense: get rid of it. Freon-based systems should be rapidly approaching the end of their lifespans and that means it’s only a matter of time before a serious problem is going to put a dent in your wallet. In most cases, a major problem is less economical to fix in a Freon-based air conditioner than it is to simply replace the entire system outright.
How Replacing Your AC Could Save You Money
Modern refrigerants R410a are actually better at transferring heat than R-22 and cost significantly less. They’re also non-toxic, which means a leak won’t risk exposing your family and loved ones to a dangerous substance and they won’t harm the ozone layer in the event of a leak. Replacing your system with one that works on this refrigerant means better reliability, efficiency and less impact on the environment.
Interested in replacing your air conditioner or learning more about how the Freon ban could affect you? Call Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar at (408) 868-5500 or contact us online to request more information.