Consumers could be hit with Higher A/C Repair Costs, as Standard Refrigerant is phased out, BBB warnsWednesday, September 25th, 2013
As summer winds down many Southern Arizonans are looking forward to cooling temperatures and lower electric bills, but even as your electric bill trends downwards, you’re A/C maintenance bill could be heating up.
In 2010 the federal government mandated the standard refrigerant used in air conditioning systems- called R-22 refrigerant- be phased out in favor of a more environmentally friendly alternative.
The phase-out allowed for existing stockpiles of R-22 to continue to be sold, but mandated that R-22 be almost completely removed from the market by 2020, causing prices to sky rocket, and saddling consumers with bills for refrigerant that can reach more $1,000.
Since 2010 prices have gone up a full 325 percent, Brett Wright D&H Air Conditioning told BBB.
“Depending on the size and type of air conditioner, repairs at today’s rates can range from a few hundred dollars to over $1,000,” Wright said. “Over the next seven years as supply continues to fall, we expect prices to continue rising.”
Not everyone will be able to rely on their unit’s warranty to cover the extra costs of refrigerant either. Wright says that consumers should check their warranty paperwork, but that most warranties don’t cover refrigerant costs.
So what can consumers do about these rising costs?
Have your system professionally maintained. A well maintained system won’t break down as much, will run better, and will conserve existing refrigerant.
Check to see if you system allows for refrigerant to be recovered, recycled, and reused. Wright says that this only works in limited situations, but next time your system is due for a repair, ask the technician to check to see if it can be recovered.
“We used to just replace the Freon, but now that prices have gone up so much we look to see if the Freon can be reused.” Wright said.
Look at your current repair costs, as well as your future anticipated repair costs. Instead of repairing your old unit, analyze the cost/benefit of updating to a newer, high efficiency unit that uses more environmentally friendly refrigerant.
If you’re currently in the market for a new air conditioning unit make sure you’re buy the newer, higher efficiency unit, not a unit that takes R-22 refrigerant. It’s important to make sure you’re getting the most up-to-date product, otherwise there’s a good chance you’ll have to replace the system before 2020 when R-22 is completely phased out.
Consider that as air conditioning units’ age, the likelihood of repairs increases. If your current system is over 10 years old you may want to do some pre-planning, and investigate how much upgrading to higher efficiency units will cost you down the line. Newer units are not only more environmentally friendly, but are also less expensive to run, Wright says.
For more consumers news and tips you can trust, visit www.tucson.bbb.org.