Upcoming 2023 Refrigerant Changes

What type of refrigerant are you currently using?

If you’re like most people, you have no idea. That’s okay. You probably already know that refrigerant is a material used by your air conditioner, but most consumers don’t have the knowledge of what type of refrigerant they’re using. For the most part, this knowledge isn’t relevant to your daily life. As long as your air conditioner has suitable levels of refrigerant and is running properly, you don’t need to know much else.

But there’s an upcoming change to how we use and handle refrigerants—and it might affect you as a residential air conditioning user.

In this guide, we’ll cover all the basics and help you figure out what to do next.

New Refrigerant 2023 Changes: The Basics

Under the AIM act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making a move against the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, which have a high global warming potential (GWP) and can harm the ozone layer. HFCs were heavily used in air conditioners and other cooling devices, but the goal is to now reduce the consumption of HFCs in the United States by 85 percent over the next 15 years. One of the most popular HFC refrigerants available was R410a.

Already, we’re operating at 90 percent of our baseline levels of HFC. By 2024, our target is to hit 60 percent. By 2029, we aim to hit 30 percent. By 2034, we aim to hit 20 percent, followed by 15 percent in 2036.

Note that this is a national initiative in coordination with other governments from around the world. There are also different state-level initiatives in play, so in your state, you may be subject to additional regulations.

Essentially, the HFC refrigerant R410a is no longer allowed to be used in new systems. It also cannot be refilled in older systems, though if your system is currently operational and does not require new R410a refrigerant, you can keep using it for the time being.

To replace R410a, HVAC professionals are recommending R454b. R454b is a similar refrigerant from a functional perspective, though it’s nowhere near as damaging to the environment—it’s global warming potential is much lower than that of R410a. It’s considered a safe and sustainable material that can help abate the climate change issues caused by HFCs.

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Why Is This Happening?

The federal government is working in coordination with other governments around the world to facilitate a global HFC phasedown. The goal of this effort is to prevent up to 0.5 degrees C of global warming by the year 2100.

HFCs were responsible for a disproportionate amount of global emissions. While eliminating HFCs gradually will not reverse human impact on the global climate by itself, it is projected to make a significant difference. In conjunction with other environmentally forward initiatives, this 2023 refrigerant change could mitigate the rapid increases in temperature that climate scientists are concerned about. And most air conditioning users won’t notice a difference when the refrigerant is changed.

Do You Need a New Refrigerant for HVAC 2023?

So are you going to need to update your system in compliance with the 2023 refrigerant changes?

The short answer is maybe.

If you have a system that currently uses the old HFC refrigerant R410a, and it’s continuing to function properly with no need for a refill, you won’t need to initiate an intervention. You can keep using this air conditioner indefinitely without concern.

If you’re low on refrigerant and you need a refill, you may be able to get that refill. However, refrigerant can only be sold to licensed technicians, and supplies of R410a are already starting to dwindle. It’s also important to note that old units that use R410a cannot be retrofitted to accept the new R454b refrigerant.

If your air conditioner is no longer working properly, or if you’re ready for a general upgrade, you’ll need to purchase a new air conditioning unit. There are no units available in 2023 or beyond that can use old HFC refrigerants. All new air conditioning units will be using newer, more sustainable forms of refrigerant. Therefore, if you want to purchase a new air conditioning system, you’ll necessarily make the refrigerant switch.

Supplier shortages have made it difficult for the air conditioning manufacturing industry to keep up with demand. If you order a new air conditioning unit now, it could be weeks or months before it’s available for you. If you suspect that your air conditioner is on its last leg, or if you just want to get ahead of demand, it’s important to put an order in for a new air conditioning unit as soon as possible.

Image of a worker doing maintenance on an HVAC system.

R410a Replacement 2023

The average air conditioning user doesn’t understand complicated EPA regulations nor do they understand the chemical formulas of refrigerants and how those compounds impact our environment. But that’s why HVAC professionals exist. They’re here to answer all your questions and make this topic simple for you.

The bottom line is this: if you have an air conditioner that uses the old style of HFC refrigerant, you’re operating on borrowed time. While you may be able to get a refill of this increasingly obsolete material right now, you may not have this luxury in the future. And if you need to get a new air conditioning unit, your only option will be units that use the new, more sustainable type of refrigerant.

Find Your 2023 Refrigerant Solution Today

If you’re feeling confused about the R410a 2023 refrigerant changes, or if you just want to make sure your air conditioner is working properly, your best bet is to contact an HVAC professional. Your HVAC service provider can analyze the type of refrigerant currently used by your air conditioner, conduct an inspection and commit any repairs necessary to your air conditioning system, and make a recommendation to purchase a new system if necessary—and they can install that new system, too!

Do you need to prepare for the 2023 refrigerant changes? Are you uncertain about whether your existing AC unit is using an obsolete type of refrigerant? Frazier Service is here to clear up your confusion and connect you with the resources you need. Contact us for more information today!

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