Dear Consumer Ed:
I heard I have to replace my home air conditioner because of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. Is that true?
Consumer Ed says:
No, EPA regulations do not require homeowners to replace their existing home air conditioners, even if the air conditioner needs major repairs.
The EPA is banning R-22, the refrigerant used in nearly all home air conditioners made before January 1, 2010. Because R-22 depletes the Earth’s protective ozone layer, EPA is gradually reducing amounts of that chemical that can be produced. In fact, EPA’s regulations ban manufacturers from making new air conditioners that use R-22.
However, to preserve the useful life of R-22 equipment consumers have already purchased, the EPA allows R-22 to be used to service existing air conditioners. You are not required to switch to a more efficient air conditioner nor one that uses a different refrigerant. But you will eventually need to replace your equipment, since the EPA will continue to reduce the amounts of R-22 available, reaching a level near zero in 2020.
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