An HCFC known as R-22 has been the refrigerant of choice for residential heat pump and air-conditioning systems for more than four decades. Unfortunately for the environment, releases of R-22 that result from system leaks contribute to ozone depletion. In addition, the manufacture of R-22 results in a by-product that contributes significantly to global warming. As the manufacture of R-22 is phased out over the coming years as part of the agreement to end production of HCFC's, manufacturers of residential air conditioning systems are only producing equipment that uses ozone-friendly refrigerants. Chemical manufacturers will be able to continue the production of R-22 until 2020 for use in servicing older equipment.
Consumers should be aware that prices of R-22 has already increased significantly as supplies and R-22 equipment dwindle. The phase out period for R-22 means that market conditions may result in additional price hikes for R-22 refrigerant and R-22 related equipment parts, mimicking the phase out of R-12 (the refrigerant that was used in automotive air-conditioning systems)
There is a good chance you've probably heard about the new alternative refrigerants being used in today's Air Conditioning Systems and Heat Pumps. These new products have fewer CFC's [chlorofluorocarbons] and are designed to have less impact on the earth's ozone layer. The type of refrigerant used today has no bearing on the cooling performance of an air conditioning unit. In addition, today's air conditioners use much less energy to produce the same amount of cooling as air conditioners made in the mid-1970s. Even if your air conditioner is only 10 years old, you can save significantly on your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model.