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Global Warming

May 13, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

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Air conditioning makes the indoors more comfortable but, at what cost to the environment? Chemicals released from common refrigerants deplete the ozone layer and contribute to global warming.

These chemicals, or chlorofluorocarbons (also known as CFCs), are compounds containing chlorine, fluorine and carbon atoms. These chemicals have been proven detrimental to the ozone and fundamental in the gradual yet significant process of global warming. Due to these hazardous environmental effects, CFCs are no longer produced. Hydrochlorofluorocarbons are less damaging to the ozone and have become a transitional alternative away from CFCs. The hydrochlorofluorocarbons are a temporary fix and are to be eliminated from all systems by 2020. Intensive study to create an alternative fluorocarbon-based refrigerant has been initiated by government agencies, various industries, environmental organizations and trade organizations.

There are, however, no regulations that demand owners of CFC emitting units seek environmentally safer replacements. Not only do many consumers use air conditioners that output CFCs but, air conditioning technicians also must use the harmful CFC refrigerant on the majority of older systems (the newer chemicals do not work with older systems).

The EPA regularly reviews and updates available alternative refrigerants based on the following characteristics: toxicity, flammability, exposure potential, global warming potential, and ozone depletion potential. If you want to buy an environmentally safe machine, consult this list and speak with your installation contractor to verify their licensing and knowledge in dealing with these new chemicals.

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