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Is Air Conditioning Bad for the Environment?

A homeowner discussing an AC replacement

Air conditioning has transformed the way we live our lives for the better. A comfortable temperature can now be achieved and maintained regardless of the weather. At the same time, air conditioning units account for a large part of the average American’s energy consumption. As a result, modern air conditioning is a balance of satisfying comfort preferences and finding the most energy-efficient way to do so. A great place to start is with your air conditioner’s refrigerant. If your air conditioner was installed before 2010, it likely uses R-22, also known as Freon. This once-common refrigerant is slowly being phased out due to the negative effect on the environment.

If sustainability and being environmentally friendly is important to you, it’s a good idea to replace your air conditioner with a more efficient model. Although air conditioning replacement can be a daunting task, it’s worth the effort. Let’s talk about what R-22 Freon is and why it needs to be replaced if you want air conditioning that’s better for the environment.

What Is R-22 Freon?

R-22, also known as Freon or HCFC-22, works by trapping heat drawn from the air inside your home. It became standard in the HVAC industry before its negative environmental effects were discovered. As a CFC (chlorofluorocarbon), Freon acts as a global warming gas and depletes the ozone layer. And as the world became more industrialized, the availability of this and similar chemicals exploded. To combat the depletion of ozone, an international agreement was reached to phase out Freon in favor of more environmentally sustainable alternatives. The phasing out of Freon is nearly complete, making it more important than ever to understand what you want most in a new or replacement air conditioner.

Replacement Coolants Are Increasingly Available

With the increase in sustainability efforts and green technology, HVAC professionals are continuing to implement more environmentally friendly refrigerants. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has helped oversee this process, not just to streamline the transition but to ensure remaining supplies of Freon are disposed of properly.

Since R-22 refrigerant was the industry standard, replacement coolants must meet demand while reducing pollution. R410A has been identified as an efficient, long-term alternative refrigerant with zero ODP (ozone-depleting potential). R-32 and R-407c are two other possible alternatives, giving technicians additional options.

The current generation of refrigerants is called HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons). Although they still contribute to the greenhouse gas effect, they do significantly less damage than CFCs and will improve the sustainability and energy efficiency of your air conditioner.

With the IEA (International Energy Agency) estimating an increase from 1.6 billion to 5.6 billion air conditioning units worldwide by 2050, current and future refrigerants will continue to be developed and fine-tuned.

Choosing a Replacement Air Conditioner

Homeowners with older AC units are highly encouraged to transition away from R-22 refrigerant systems. While some retrofitting options may be available, this is generally expensive and not worth the effort. For true energy efficiency, it is the best practice to purchase a newer system.

It could be a reliable air conditioner from a leading brand. You could also consider more significant alternatives, unique from traditional forced-air type products. For example, heat pumps are a great, energy-efficient alternative since they work by transferring the heat in or out of your home instead of combusting fuel to generate it. If you choose a model from a top brand like Lennox for your heat pump installation, you could enjoy benefits like AC-only and dual-function models; ENERGY STAR®-certified efficiency; smart thermostat compatibility; and quiet, long-lasting comfort.

From traditional air conditioning to innovative ductless options, local pros like Aspinwall Plumbing & Heating have more than 50 years of experience serving the South Shore area with the best cooling solutions. If your AC unit is more than 10 to 15 years old, you should get it replaced before you run into problems or make existing ones worse. A new, energy-efficient air conditioning unit can quickly lower your utility bill and begin to pay for itself.

Start Air Conditioning Replacement with Aspinwall Today

Ready to experience an outstanding level of service from a top heating and air conditioning company in Quincy, MA? Turn to local pros like Aspinwall Plumbing & Heating. We’ll help you find the most environmentally friendly and energy-efficient air conditioning available.

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