Should We Stay or Should We Go Now?

[Editor’s note: This letter is in response to various recent refrigerant news coverage.]

Twenty-two years ago, after decades of controversy, the Montreal Protocol (an international treaty which signaled the end for CFCs and other ozone depleters) was signed. HCFCs were to be part of the bridge to cleaner refrigerants. This year will be the last for HCFC-22 (which has an ozone depletion potential of 0.05) in new equipment, to be replaced by HFC-410a.

The HFCs started development probably in the 1970s, if not earlier. Obviously they seemed a good replacement fit and were no threat to the ozone layer as they contained no chlorine. The fact they were major greenhouse gases never really entered the picture, I guess.

In all the intervening years when new green refrigerants could have been developed, little activity took place. Fast forwarding to now, it is almost a certainty HFCs will be strongly regulated and phased out by Congress through legislation this year or next. And still we have no replacement green refrigerants.

A Dupont-Honeywell joint effort (as reported online byThe NEWS“Next Generation Refrigerant to Improve Auto Air Conditioning,” Nov. 3, 2008) has developed a replacement for HFC-134a in response to European efforts to phase out R-134a in transportation by 2012. That refrigerant is out of a new class called HFOs. HFOs probably contain many opportunities for replacement refrigerants for HFCs. Progress in that area seems incredibly slow.

General Electric Corp. (also as reported online byThe NEWS) has submitted a hydrocarbon refrigerant to the Environmental Protection Agency for approval in a new refrigerator it plans to begin production on in 2010. [“GE Seeks EPA Approval to Use Isobutane as a Refrigerant,” Jan. 20.]

The potential for positive change is beginning to fall in place. The big question for our industry will be whether we take control of our destiny by embracing it, or are dragged screaming into it by forces beyond our control.

Joe Maurer, Owner
Recovery Htg. and Air Conditioning
Rowlett, Texas

Sell on Value and Consumers Will Upgrade Their Units

In response to Brian Bullock’s letter disagreeing with the 13 SEER Mandate [“13 SEER Mandate Is Causing an Increase in Energy Use,” Jan. 19] as long as people in our industry feel the way he does (and there are a lot that do) then, of course, the consumer will resist replacing their older equipment with new high-efficiency units.

The industry has to stop selling on price and start selling on value. People like Brian are living in the past and are doing the industry a disservice by convincing consumers higher SEER units are not worth the money. Consumers do not come up with that opinion on their own. People like Brian are feeding them with it.

Giving consumers the correct information will result in 75 percent of them upgrading their equipment even in these terrible economic times.

Lou Torsello
Vice President
O’Neill Contracting Inc.
Bergenfield, N.J.

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Publication date:03/30/2009