Virginia & Maryland Heating & Air Conditioning

Why Is Freon So Expensive?

If you’ve needed an air conditioner recharge recently and your system is somewhat old, you’ve probably been stunned at how expensive the cost was for your refrigerant. In fact, you may have accused your air conditioning repair man of trying to rip you off. Let us assure of this: they’re not. R-22 refrigerant, or Freon as it is more commonly known, has skyrocketed in price in the last several years for a variety of reasons, and we’ll discuss them on this blog.

Freon is Not Eco-Friendly

For many years, R-22 refrigerant was the go-to choice for air conditioning system manufacturers everywhere. It was fairly inexpensive and exceptional at its job of carrying heat from one place to another and then gaining or losing it quickly. However, it is also a volatile compound which contributes to the depletion of our ozone layer when it evaporates. In other words, it’s really, really bad for the environment.

So to combat this, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered Freon to be phased out as a refrigerant in the late 1980s. Jumping forward several years to 2010 and the EPA kicked things into high gear on this order by banning the import of any new air conditioners that were pre-charged with Freon. Additionally, chemical manufacturers were ordered to cut their production of the substance by 75 percent. By the year 2015, that number increased to 90 percent, making the substance hard to come by. In order to stay in business and keep up with codes, manufacturers simply stopped producing units that relied on Freon all together.

Economics at Work

So why has Freon become so expensive? The solution is simple: the basic economic principle of supply and demand. With such a small available supply and such high demand, the price for Freon soared and people had to start searching for alternatives that were lower cost just to remain competitive. Today, there are a number of alternatives on the market that not only do their job better than Freon did, but are also harmless to the environment.

However, for those select few units out there that still run on the old chemical compound, it’s virtually impossible to find Freon to recharge your unit. The majority of Freon on the market today is actually reclaimed, which means it was extracted from an old system before it was replaced and disposed of. Even this “used” Freon carries a high price tag, however, and the truth is with the age of systems that still run on the stuff, it’s only a matter of time before it’s going to need replaced anyway.

Avoiding the Cost

This brings us to our final point: how can you avoid paying the exorbitant cost of a Freon recharge? If your system is getting older, you may find that you’re going to need to do this more and more often, and it’s only going to continue to get more and more expensive each time. So naturally, the best solution is perhaps the simplest one: get rid of your Freon-based system all together. It may not seem like an inexpensive solution, but the truth of the matter is that modern non-Freon based systems are so much more advanced and efficient that they’ll save you a tremendous amount of money on your energy bills, and repairs won’t cost nearly as much either because the refrigerant in these systems is still readily available and inexpensive.

If you need your air conditioning system repaired or are considering full replacement, call the Sterling air conditioning repairs experts at Donmar Heating & Cooling at (703) 457-8676 today!
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