Freon is a chlorofluorocarbon – a 6-syllable colorless gas you don’t care about, but that could become your next problem. Developed in 1930 by General Motors and Dupont, Freon is as also known R-22 and has been utilized for decades in refrigeration, air conditioning units, and freezers. Because of its toxicity and its contribution to depleting the ozone layer, Freon will cease to be manufactured starting in January 2020. If you live in Southern California and your AC system is 10-15 years or older, investing in a solution now will save you from sweating out a heatwave later.
Your air conditioner uses a system of coils and compressors, which heats Freon to make it very hot. When it travels through the coils, this chlorofluorocarbon gas cools down into a liquid form, absorbing heat from the outside air, and pushing out cold air. This cyclical operation is the exact reason why living in the San Fernando Valley isn’t so bad if you don’t own a swimming pool.
Freon hasn’t been imported into the United States since 2010. The Environmental Protection Agency developed a phase-out procedure so homeowners and businesses could have time to develop a plan to change systems. Some HVAC companies predict the price for Freon to raise over $200 per pound. R410A was developed as a substitute refrigerant to be more environmentally friendly, but you can’t use it in systems that run on Freon.
You probably won’t see people fighting in Home Depot parking lots or sleeping outside of Walmart for Black Friday Deals on Freon, because instead of stockpiling more Freon, you should start planning alternatives for your home. Alternatives that are a permanent fix instead of a way to kick the can down the road only to deal with it another day. There’s no back-alley market selling Freon out of trucks or any guys in dark coats with sunglasses that know people who know other people. While investing in a new air conditioning system may seem costly, finding your own answer to the extinction of Freon now will give you a lot more relief in the future.
Jeff Seale of Accurate Electrical, Plumbing Heating and Air knows the clock is ticking for his customers. “We want our customers to have all the right information so they can make the best choice that suits their needs. Our goal is always to provide options so homeowners don’t feel cornered into one solution, but Freon is going away forever. So if we all don’t proactively take action, none of us may have the best options when the well dries up for good.”
Technician retrofitting old A/C unit to run on more sustainable refrigerant.
Some air conditioning systems are flexible enough to be retrofitted. This means a technician can come out to your home and mechanically alter your system so that it will run on a more sustainable refrigerant. This short-cut the pricey replacement cost of a new system, but retrofitting can only go so far depending on the size of your home and the uniqueness of your property. While your unit may use an alternate blended refrigerant capable of replacing Freon and helping the environment for the greater good, the operation of your system will change and most likely underachieve. Imagine trying to run a 1970 Chevy Chevelle with a 121-horsepower setup. That’s like driving around with a Prius engine. Maybe you’re not a car person, but what happens when you don’t update your iPhone operating system after prompting you to multiple times? You notice a difference.
It was actually at the University of California in 1973 where this all started to come about. A radiochemistry researcher named F. Sherwood Roland and partner Mario Molina had constructed a model showing that chlorofluorocarbons didn’t dissipate the way everyone thought they did. Their model showed how these chlorofluorocarbons reached the stratosphere before they decomposed and freed chlorine, which destroys the ozone. It has taken this long to completely rid our environment of just releasing this chemical, so you can imagine the damage already done.
Now in Southern California, there is a swift culture change to enhance our lifestyles by living ‘greener’ and an infatuation of utilizing new technology within our daily lives. There are many commercial and residential air conditioning systems that do not use harmful chemicals and also save you a lot of money on your power bills because of their efficient design and operating capabilities. With Southern California being a highly desired home location to so many people either looking to buy property or rent, upgrading your HVAC system is an investment that may seem costly but that will actually increase your property’s value substantially in the long run.
Experts in the industry like Accurate have been servicing Southern California homes for decades and know the kind of heat Southern California brings on during the summers. The Freon phase-out may present itself to any homeowner budgeting their year as an aggravating complication, but it is really an opportunity in disguise.
An upgrade for a higher-performing HVAC system could be the first step into creating a smart home or might be the frosting you need to sell your property at a value that will put dollar signs in your eyes. The age of Freon is gone, but the heat in Southern California is always on, so a plan of action is the first step in the right direction.