Keeping your AC unit up-to-date with EPA regulations

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- This summer's high temperatures mean your air conditioning unit is probably using extra energy.

"This time of year puts a lot of stress on these units," says Tony Sanders of Stewart Richey Construction.

But what happens when they stop working?

With the EPA phasing out the "R-22" refrigerant that many older AC units use, it may be harder to find, which means if you want your AC up and running, you may need to convert the unit to use an alternative, more eco-friendly coolant.

"They will basically work the same as "R-22", but it's just a different type of refrigerant that doesn't have quite the same chemical makeup," says Sanders.

Sanders also says while alternative coolants may be a short-term answer, it may be easier to invest in a new unit.

"That will get the people by for a while," he explains. "When they get to that point, probably the age is going to be enough that they should consider replacing the units because it will start costing them more to operate and maintain than to replace."

How do you know if your AC unit still uses "R-22"?

"You can walk out to the outside, and you can look on your outdoor unit, and there's a tag that has a model and serial number," says Tony Sanders, "and if you look on that tag, it will say a factory charge, and it will tell what type of refrigerant and how many ounces."

If you do go the route of a new unit, Sanders says you can find one that is cheap and green.

"There's several different efficiencies that they can go with that are a whole lot better," he says, "and save you energy in the long run, and money obviously, than what we had in the past."

The EPA has been phasing out the "R-22" refrigerant for several years, and in 2020, the phaseout will be complete.

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