New AC Efficiency Standards hit 2015: Understanding the Benefits

As of January 1st, 2015 the Department of Energy is instituting new regional minimum efficiency standards for residential central air conditioners, which will be equal to the current ENERGY STAR criteria. The northern United States will remain at 13 SEER while the southern United States minimum federal efficiency will increase to 14 SEER.

Along with these new standards, the R-22 refrigerant, commonly known as Freon®, will be officially phased out of residential air conditioning systems and replaced with  R410-A, known as Puron®.

So what is the difference between R-22 and R-410A and how does it affect you? As a homeowner considering a purchase, it’s important that you understand the difference so you can make the best decision for your system in the near future.

Why R-410A vs. R-22

R-22 is a hydro-chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) which contributes to ozone depletion and was discontinued for use in new air conditioning systems in 2010, with R-410A set to become the new standard for U.S. residential air conditioning systems starting in 2015.

Switching to R-410A has the following benefits:

  • Is a hydro-fluorocarbon (HFC) which does not contribute to ozone depletion.
  • Absorbs and releases more heat than R-22 enabling your air conditioning compressor to run cooler, reducing the risk of compressor burnout due to overheating.
  • Operates at a higher pressure than R-22 so newer compressors are now built to withstand this greater stress which reduces the possibility of cracking.
  • R-410A systems use synthetic oil, which is more soluble than the mineral oil that R-22 uses, and operates more efficiently so there is less wear and tear on the compressor.

While older systems using R-22 will continue to be serviced until they are replaced, the benefits of transitioning to R-410A will make a difference in helping preserve the environment and provide you with greater cooling efficiency and energy savings.

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