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Why should you be actively considering replacing your ageing R22 air conditioning?

Any air conditioning over 12 years old probably uses R22 refrigerant, an ozone-depleting CFC which has long been banned in new systems across the EU. By law most elements of any system containing R22 become unserviceable at the end of 2014. They will therefore be illegal to repair in the event of any failure. Most manufacturers have stopped supporting such aged systems so spare parts are increasingly expensive and difficult to obtain. Most owners and operators of this equipment now find it is uneconomical to repair and are opting to replace it.

Modern replacement systems use environmentally responsible refrigerants such as R410A and are up to 60% more energy efficient than R22 systems. This means they often pay back their replacement costs in energy savings alone within 3 or 4 years.

There are some aftermarket replacement, or ‘drop-in’, refrigerants which purport to extend the life of R22 systems. Andrews Air Conditioning, along with most equipment manufacturers, does not recommend the use of such refrigerants because they only serve to extend the life of an already aged and highly inefficient system for an uncertain period.

Replacing your old R22-based air conditioning equipment with a new ozone-friendly system is, perhaps surprisingly, by far the most cost-effective solution. Why?

Due to its age any R22-based air conditioning system will be driven by obsolete fixed-speed compressor technology. Its replacement with a modern, digital inverter-controlled system will bring significant immediate energy savings of over 50%. For a typical 5kW wall-mounted or ceiling cassette unit could save over £500 per year in electricity (a 67% reduction) and reduce the annual production of CO2 by over 1.3 tonnes.

The cost, time and potential upheaval of replacing out-dated R22 air conditioning equipment can be reduced in some cases by the use of Replacement Technology. This enables only the primary indoor and outdoor units to be replaced, whilst the existing pipe work and electrical supplies are retained. Many equipment manufacturers have introduced products specifically designed for this purpose, which can greatly simplify the installation process, reducing disruption to building finishes and the activities of the occupiers.

New air conditioning is also far less likely to suffer a breakdown and the associated costs of downtime and repairs, and will commonly benefit from a manufacturer backed multi-year warranty. A less well known further benefit is that, because almost all modern air conditioning systems incorporate heat pump technology as standard, the same system that provides comfort cooling in the summer will also deliver clean, highly energy-efficient heating in the winter.

The Government’s commitments contained in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol came into force in February 2005. The aim of radically reducing the UK’s CO2 emissions has led to the introduction of the Enhanced Capital Allowance Scheme. This Government scheme allows any company replacing an existing air conditioning system with a more energy-efficient installation, to offset the entire cost of the project against its taxable profits. It should also be remembered that a more energy-efficient system will enable building owners to achieve improved energy ratings under the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.

If you are a building owner or occupier concerned about meeting your responsibilities, contact Andrews Air Conditioning Services on 0800 831 8833. We are members of the Building & Engineering Services Association and REFCOM, The Register of Companies Competent to Handle Refrigerants.

Time is running out quickly so the best advice is to make contact with us very soon so we can help you develop an effective R22 replacement plan.

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