With summer temperatures already spiking, it’s more important than ever to keep your air conditioner running well.
But keeping it going could cost you more this summer – a lot more, according to some industry leaders.
Most older air conditioning units still run on a type of Freon called R-22, which is being phased out by the federal government. As a result, costs for the limited supply left are shooting up.
Production of the refrigerant is set to stop completely in 2020.
This year, the Environmental Protection Agency has not made a final determination on how much refrigerant will be available in the future. As a result, the industry is in flux – and so are the prices for Freon.
In a statement, the EPA said they’re aware that prices have risen for this type of Freon, but that they believe that there’s an ample supply of the refrigerant still available.
When Janice Luce got her air conditioner its annual check-up this year, she knew how important Freon is to keeping her house cool.
"If we have another summer like last summer that was so hot, you have to have Freon,” she said. “You can't go without it.”
But she worries about having to pay more if her Freon runs out.
"Groceries are up, everything is going up and when you are on a fixed income you don't have that extra money,” she said.
The prices of R-22 could double in the future, according to Raj Rai, President of Weather King Heating and Cooling.
"Let's say, today you filled up your gas tank at $3.50 per gallon,” he explained, “And the next time you go to fill it up again next week, it's $7 a gallon. That's exactly what's happened with Freon."
Some homeowners will decide to just buy a new unit to replace their old one, but others, like Janice, are crossing their fingers that their Freon won’t run out.
To find out if your air conditioner is affected by this shortage, check the sticker on the unit. If you have a newer unit that says R-4-10-A, it won’t affect you.
If you have an older unit, though, that says R-22, be prepared to pay more this summer.
Full statement from the EPA:
EPA is aware that HCFC-22 prices have risen, but we continue to receive industry data suggesting that the supply of HCFC-22 remains ample. Exact HCFC-22 amounts available in 2012 will depend on how much chemical producers decide to manufacture, how much already exists in inventory at large national wholesalers of refrigerant, and on total amounts allocated by EPA.
To provide clarity on total 2012 amounts, EPA is working to complete a final rule to follow up on our January 4, 2012 proposal. The final rule will provide refrigerant production and import allowances for 2012 of between approximately 55 million pounds and 90 million pounds of new HCFC-22 production and import.
In a 2009 final rule, EPA had already granted 2012 allowances, but an industry lawsuit nullified them. To prevent potential market disruption resulting from this lawsuit, in January 2012 EPA also issued an assurance of no enforcement action, to make sure that importers and manufacturers could continue supplying HCFC-22 until a final rule is issued.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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