Homes and businesses with older central air conditioning systems should be concerned about not only energy efficiency but leaking HFCs. Some 140 million older central air conditioners across the US still use HCFC-22 as a part of their system.
The New York Times reports “leaks abound in working equipment. Regulatory loopholes allow manufacturers to sell parts that rely on HCFC-22 so systems using the old gas can be refurbished rather than replaced. Even where there are regulations – for example, repair technicians are legally bound to collect old gas rather than vent it – there is little enforcement.
Older condenser units are still on the market but without the coolant gas. After the units are installed technicians simply add the gas. Homeowners would often rather repair an old system than replace it because of the expense. However, increases in energy efficiency and environmental concerns should trump financial considerations alone.
If your home or business currently uses an older central air conditioning system, consider replacing it with a system without HFCs. Concentrations of HCFC-22 in the atmosphere are more than double what they were 20 years ago, partly due to leaks in faulty or old equipment. Clearly the EPA needs to eliminate loopholes if they want to eliminate these harmful gases from our economy.