Preparing for the R-22 Refrigerant Phaseout in Commercial HVAC Equipment

In an effort to curb the use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) which have proven to be damaging to the Earth’s ozone layer, the EPA enacted Title VI of the Clean Air Act. This ruling stipulates that all HCFCs must be phased out of use and production – including the R-22 refrigerant commonly found in commercial HVAC systems.

Building owners and facility managers have to act quickly to remain in compliance with the EPAs ruling on HCFCs. Preparing for the rapidly approaching phase-out deadline is the key to finding a cost-effective alternative for systems reliant upon R-22 refrigerants.

Understand the R-22 Phaseout Timeline

The most important part of preparing for the R-22 phaseout is understanding the rapidly approaching timeline. The phase-out has been in effect since 2013 with gradually declining allowance levels.

All production of R-22 refrigerants must stop by the beginning of 2020. All commercial HVAC systems that use R-22 may continue to do so over the lifetime of the system. However, this may be a costly option. The ever-shrinking amount of R-22 has skyrocketed costs and a permanent halt in production will only push prices even higher.

With the final phase out just around the corner, building owners need to act quickly to keep operating costs to a minimum.

Understanding Your Options for the R-22 Phaseout

Fortunately, there are several options available for building owners and facility managers that can actually yield major long-term savings. There are three main considerations when preparing for the R-22 phaseout:

  1. Monitoring R-22 Consumption: as the cost of R-22 continues to spike, it’s vital to work with a commercial HVAC contractor to implement a method of monitoring consumption. With the permanent stoppage of production coming soon, it’s important to ensure stockpiles are high enough, and no R-22 is being wasted, to last until an alternative is found.
  2. Retrofitting Existing Equipment: for some commercial HVAC systems, retrofitting cooling equipment to use alternative refrigerants may be an option with lower initial costs. Retrofitting can help avoid the ultra-high costs of R-22 for the rest of the system’s effective service life, although replacement is inevitable.
  3. Replacing Existing Equipment: the most effective option for many building owners will be to replace existing commercial HVAC equipment. Newer high-efficiency systems can provide relatively quick paybacks and huge energy savings in the long-term. Plus, investments in new commercial HVAC equipment may be eligible for a Section 179 Tax Deduction, further extending the savings associated with new equipment.

The R-22 phaseout is nearing completion, and building owners and facility managers must act quickly to avoid the enormous costs of R-22 refrigerants. The three options listed above must be considered before the end of production in 2020.

To navigate this complicated regulatory landscape and find the most cost-effective solution for your business, see how Donnelly Mechanical refrigerant conversion services can help. Donnelly has been NYC’s premier commercial HVAC provider for over 30 years, serving the city’s most distinguished clientele.

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