R-22 Phase Out

Background: Ban on Production and Imports of Ozone-Depleting Refrigerants
In 1987 the Montreal Protocol, an international environmental agreement, established requirements that began the worldwide phase-out of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons. Refrigerant R-22 has been the refrigerant of choice for residential heat pump and air-conditioning systems for more than four decades. The manufacture of R-22 will be phased out over the coming years as part of the agreement to end production of HCFCs. Manufacturers of residential air conditioning systems are beginning to offer equipment that uses ozone-friendly refrigerants.

Phase-out Timeline for Refrigerant R22
January 1, 2004: In accordance with the terms of the Montreal Protocol, the amount of all HCFCs that can be produced nationwide must be reduced by 35% by 2004.
January 1, 2010: Chemical manufacturers may still produce R-22 to service existing equipments, but not for use in new equipment.
January 1, 2020: Use of existing refrigerant, including refrigerant that has been recovered and recycled, will be allowed beyond 2020 to service existing systems, but chemical manufacturers will no longer be able to produce R-22 to service existing air conditioners and heat pumps.

Alternatives to R-22
As R-22 is gradually phased-out, non-ozone-depleting alternative refrigerants are being introduced. One of these substitutes is R-410A, a blend of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), substances that do not contribute to depletion of the ozone layer. R-410A is manufactured and sold under various trade names, including GENETRON AZ-20, SUVA 410A, and Puron (all registered).

Service Existing Units
Existing units using R-22 can continue to be serviced with R-22. There is no EPA requirement to change or convert R-22 units for use with a non-ozone-depleting substitute refrigerant.

A Common Sense Approach to Servicing Your System
While EPA does not mandate repairing or replacing small systems because of leaks, system leaks can not only harm the environment, but also result in increased maintenance costs.

Installing New Units
The transition away from ozone-depleting R-22 to systems that rely on replacement refrigerant like R-410A has required redesign of heat pump and air conditioning systems. R-22 systems cannot be retrofitted to use R-410A and indoor and outdoor components cannot be mix-matched. Consumers should be aware that dealers of systems that use substitute refrigerants should be schooled in installation and service techniques required for use of the substitute refrigerant.

One important thing a homeowner can do for the environment, regardless of the refrigerant used, is to select a reputable dealer that employs service technicians who are EPA-certified to handle refrigerants.

A Common Sense Approach to Purchasing New Systems
Another important thing a homeowner can do for the environment is to purchase a highly energy-efficient system. Energy-efficient systems result in cost savings for the homeowner. Even if your air conditioner is only 10 years old, you may save significantly on your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model. Products with EPA's Energy Star label can save homeowners 10% to 40% on their heating and cooling bills every year. Equipment that displays the Energy Star label must have a minimum seasonal energy efficiency ration (SEER). The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the equipment.

Note: This information was copied from The EPA website.