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If you have an older HVAC system that uses Freon or R22 refrigerant and you are worried about how you will keep it running after the phase-out of that refrigerant completes, then the good news is that you do have some options available for replacement.
Freon / R22 is an older HVAC refrigerant that is now known to be ozone-depleting, and because of this most of the world’s governments have reached an agreement to ban the production and sale of those refrigerants. It is currently still legal to use them, but only to top up the gases in air conditioning systems that have already been sold and installed. Prices of these refrigerants are rapidly increasing as supply dwindles, and soon the only way to get replacement R22 will be to buy reclaimed refrigerant that was salvaged from an old HVAC unit that has been decommissioned.
Drop In Replacements for Freon vs Replacement HVAC Units
If you want to be as environmentally friendly as possible with your HVAC system, then the best option is to replace the entire unit. In the last 10 years or so, air conditioning systems have improved dramatically and if your unit is more than 10 years old there is a chance that it is not at all economical to run.
The final phase-out date for freon is the start of 2020. If you think that Freon is expensive now, then be prepared for a huge shock when you get your unit serviced after that date. Homeowners and commercial property owners who can afford to replace their entire HVAC unit would do well to do so, because this would offer long-term cost savings.
Not everyone can afford to replace their HVAC unit outright, though, and for those who want to do their bit to protect the environment, and also protect their pocketbooks, using a new drop-in replacement refrigerant for their existing HVAC unit is a good option.
Bluon, or TDX 20, is a new direct replacement for R22. Many of the other alternative refrigerants are not suitable for use in older air conditioning units because they work at different pressures or temperatures, or they would require you to replace the whole of the compressor or filter to make them work properly. This is not the case with TDX 20.
Bluon is a direct replacement that has a lower Global Warming Potential, and that complies with the latest regulations. It runs more efficiently, it costs less, and it has a lower impact on the environment. It performs better at most temperatures, and it can extend the life of your existing air conditioning system.
Your Legal Obligations
As a homeowner you are not required to get rid of your old air conditioning unit. You cannot buy a new unit that uses Freon, but you can keep using the one that you have. To keep it running efficiently, you will need to have it serviced regularly. If you have a technician come out to service your unit, and they notice that the unit is leaking, then they are not legally allowed to ‘recharge’ it with Freon, because they would be knowingly releasing more of the ozone-depleting gas into the atmosphere if they did this.
If your technician notices that the unit is leaking, then their first priority will be to fix the leak. After that, they can either top up the freon in the unit, or completely replace the gas. You cannot mix refrigerants because the different refrigerants operate at different pressures (and some may even react with each other). It would be very dangerous to even try to do this. You can, however, have the freon that is in your unit drained. Your HVAC technician can do this safely, and then dispose of the freon for you in a way that will not deplete the ozone layer, or use it to keep other legacy systems going. Once your unit has been drained of freon, you can have it topped up with TDX 20 from Bluon Energy. This will keep the unit going until you are ready to replace it.
If you have been following the R22 phase out for awhile you may remember that it wasn’t all that long ago that R-410A was touted as the replacement for freon. This refrigerant does not deplete the ozone layer in the way that R22 does, so it is a better option than R22, but it does have other drawbacks. IT is not particularly energy efficient, for starters. Currently, around 40% of all the energy produced worldwide is used by HVAC systems. Anything that we can do to make those systems more efficient is going to be a huge boon for the environment.
Bluon is non-ozone depleting, and it works with freon powered systems. It can reduce the energy consumption of even an older HVAC system by as much as 20 to 30 percent, and will help to keep those systems running for longer. It is more efficient than R22, and works at a wider range of temperatures. Those benefits make it a clear candidate for a replacement refrigerant.
As the phase-out deadline draws closer, you are likely to receive a lot of correspondence from people who are trying to sell new air conditioning units, modifications, different refrigerants, or ‘check-ups’ for your systems. Do not fall for the cold calls and the scams. Educate yourself about your responsibilities and about what the phase out really means for your home or your business. You have options, and they don’t have to cost you a fortune. If you are able to purchase a new HVAC system then that is the ideal long-term solution, but if you cannot do so then there are economical alternatives that will still reduce the impact that your household or business has on the ozone layer, and that will save you money in the medium term as well. Next time you book a service for your unit, be sure to ask if it is compatible with TDX 20.