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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- With the heat we're feeling, many homeowners are discovering that it's gotten a lot more expensive to keep their homes cool.
The cost of cooling homes is rising because the cost of the Freon gas used in most air conditioners is skyrocketing. The reason -- new EPA regulations.
The next time you call someone like Danny Crimmens to come fix your air conditioner, be prepared for sticker shock when you get the bill.
Repairing leaky air conditioners has never been as expensive as it is right now.
The problem is the rising cost of R-22 Freon gas, the most common coolant used in both home and business air conditioners for some 40 years. In 2010, the EPA began phasing out R-22 because of concerns that it damaged the ozone layer.
"So what everybody did is agreed that beginning in 2010, they would start phasing out R-22, and phase it out over a 10-year period through 2010-2020," said Richard Ciresi, president of AireServ Heating and Cooling.
But then, last year, the EPA changed the rules. Instead of phasing out R-22 at a rate of 10 percent per year, the EPA proposed an immediate 35 percent reduction.
"Well, the moment that proposal hit the street, the price of the refrigerant R-22 tripled literally overnight," said Ciresi.
Tripled from about eight-dollars a pound to 25-dollars a pound. And much of that cost is being passed on to consumers.
"Our price just escalated wildly, some of which we tried to absorb to help our customers."
And it's going to get worse before it gets better. The closer we get to 2020, the more scarce and more expensive R-22 gas will become.
So, many homeowners will face a dilemma -- whether to pay the skyrocketing cost of repairing an older air conditioner, or buying a newer model that does not use R-22 gas.
"If someone has an old R-22 unit and maybe it needs a $500-600 repair, it's probably time to start looking at going ahead and replacing it because the next repair may be $1000 or $1200. We don't know what that number is going to be," said Ciresi.
If your air conditioner was installed before around 1997, it's more likely that it uses R-22 gas. The good news is that modern units are more efficient, and you'll save on your energy bill.