EPA phase-out of Freon in air conditioners triggers high costs, low supply

If your cooling system is a couple decades old - you may not have to replace it, but you might soon want to.

The EPA is currently phasing out the use of Freon, otherwise known as R22, because it’s bad for the environment and it’s expensive.

Those with older units that use Freon or contain leaks are especially at risk for high costs in cooling repairs.

“I think there’s sticker shock,” said Wade Sedgwick, owner of Pronto Heating & Air Conditioning. “R22 will skyrocket over the years.”

A 30 lb jug of Freon ran cooling companies $350 last year. This year, the same jugs can run up to $900 each.
Diminishing stock and rising costs are a result of the Freon phase-out enforced by the EPA. The goal is to completely stop producing the ozone-depleting chemical by 2020.

“New equipment has been produced using a different refrigerant that's less harmful to the environment,” Sedgwick said.

Sedgwick said he has never sold a product that uses anything but a friendlier coolant called R-410A.

“It’s just safer for the environment,” Pronto technician Robby Pauluk said.

But because some homeowners Sedgwick services rely on Freon, his pockets have been hit, too.

“We’re not that big of a company, and we spent $10,000 in the month of May and the first part of June on refrigerants,” he said.

If your cooling system is 20 years or older, it probably depends on R22.

“Those are all systems where our techs arrive at that home and show that price, people are falling down, [saying] ‘are you kidding me?!’” he said. “It’s like fixing up an old beat up car,” he said. “You just would never do it.”

According to Fox Business, R22 production has decreased by 27 percent this year. Recycled Freon will be available after 2020, but only in limited quantities.