Why the Cost of AC Refrigerant is Rising (And How It Affects You)

September 23, 2014

If your air conditioner needed more refrigerant this summer, you may have noticed the steep increase in price.

In fact, it’s not uncommon to see prices anywhere from $125 to $165 per pound of refrigerant. And those prices are climbing.

But why? Why is refrigerant so expensive?

Well here’s the simple answer:

It’s being phased out

As part of an international agreement called the Montreal Protocol, the U.S. agree to reduce its consumption of ozone-depleting chemicals. One of those chemicals is R-22, a common gas used for home air conditioner refrigerant.

The phase-out has already begun and the U.S. has reduced its consumption of R-22 by 75%. However, there are still several home air conditioners using this refrigerant. Therefore, the price has gone up (supply and demand).

And it won’t stop there.

As of January 1, 2015, R-22 must be reduced by 90% of the original baseline. And by 2020, no R-22 will be allowed to be created (although recycled/reclaimed R-22 will be available to service existing AC systems).

Read more about the phase-out here.

What the diminishing supply of R-22 means to you

The EPA phase-out of R-22 air conditioning refrigerant means the prices will only continue to rise. But how much that affects you will depend on the state of your current AC.

If you’re in the market for a new air conditioner
Purchase an AC that uses an alternate refrigerant (410A) so that you aren’t tied to something that is being phased out.

If you have an old AC that needs R-22
If an air conditioning repair company is telling you that you need more refrigerant in your system, you should have them find where the leak is. Refrigerant is in a closed system. So you shouldn’t have to add more unless there’s a leak.

See: How Often Does a Central AC Unit Need Charging With Refrigerant?

It will cost you more to repair the leak, but you will save money in the long run since you won’t need to keep replacing refrigerant.

If you just bought a new air conditioner
If you just purchased a new home air conditioner within the last year or two, it probably has the alternate refrigerant, 410A. However, there is a chance it uses R-22.

Either way, consider getting regular maintenance on your cooling system to avoid problems like refrigerant leaks in the future.

Need air conditioning help in the Fort Myers area? Or have an AC question for us? Contact us online.