This is important for you to understand because all Air Conditioning units use either 410-A or R-22. The phase out program is predicted to cause a shortage of R-22 beginning in 2015. Shortages will lead to higher prices or unavailability.
410-A is the current standard, and has been for the past 20 years. If your unit was new within the last 15-20 years, it is likely using 410-A, but it is best to check. The type of refrigerant an air conditioner uses will most likely be labeled on the model/serial number tag . If not, it might also be on the compressor. If you cannot easily locate this information, your HVAC contractor can help you. Most contractors, including me, will do this for you free of charge or during your spring clean up.
During this phase out process, in addition to significantly higher prices for R-22, you may also hear service contractors offering to retrofit your R-22 unit to use MO99. While this might seem like a money saving solution in the short term, long-term it will cost you more. Most warranties will be void with retrofitted parts, and units are likely to become even less efficient, costing you more in monthly bills. Even with a good retrofit, you will likely need to replace your unit within a few years.
I recommend my customers with R-22 units call me to discuss all your options.
If you are considering a new unit, there are many rebate programs for new units, and you will save money by reducing your utility bills. Customers with high-efficiency units spend an average of 30% less on their monthly utility bills. New units keep you cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter, run quieter, and come with great parts warranties.
Even without the EPA phase out of R-22, replacing most R-22 units would be a wise investment.
If you have any questions about R-22, your current unit, or new installation, please contact me.