Cool air is running out as AC units phase out coolant

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

(CBS) -- Millions of Americans are keeping cool this summer thanks to air conditioning in their home, but some may be surprised to find out the coolant inside older units is being phased out. That leaves homeowners paying high prices to recharge or replace their air conditioners.​

The air conditioning business is heating up for workers at Air Group because the coolant inside many older air conditioning units will soon be obsolete.

"We're converting in an air conditioning system from R22, which is the old refrigerant, to R4-10a, which is the environmentally friendly refrigerant," said Giancarlo Pesantez, an Air Group technical sales representative

On January 1st, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency is banning the production of R-22 gas, which is known as freon and helps create cool air.

"R22 is very efficient, been around for a long time now, but it has a chlorine base which is ozone-depleting. So it's been deemed bad for the environment," said another rep for Air Group, Lance Emley Trainer.

Homeowners who need to refill their units are seeing prices of R-22 soar because supplies are so low.

What used to cost a few hundred dollars can now run up to $1,600. Newer air conditioners typically use environmentally friendly R4-10, which can't be used in old systems.

"I would say if they're having issues with the system the cost factors for repairs become exorbitant. You're throwing good money out for bad."

Replacing old R-22 units can run anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000, depending on the size of the job, but the government is offering tax breaks up to $5,000 for a new system.​

Click here to see those government rebates.

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