It's costing you more to maintain your AC

Air conditioning coolant changes to blame

Published On: Jul 29 2012 10:46:46 PM EDT

Federal regulations have turned what was a commonly available air conditioning system refrigerant into a scarce resource. And that may make a lot of homeowners sweat this summer.

“The regulations have changed when it comes to air conditioners. The older models use a Freon that is not going to be available in a few years and because of that production of that Freon has reduced causing the price to go up. So if you have to replace the Freon in an older model you are likely going to pay more this year," explains Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.

Consumers have reported spending two and three times the amount for a common type of refrigerant than in previous years.  

“For a homeowner who for many years may have a small leak in their systems and just have us come out in the spring or summer and top it off with a pound or two- well back in the day that might have run them a couple of hundred dollars. And with today’s prices of R22, it may be $500 to $600," says HVAC contractor Larry Howald.,

Angie’s List asked highly rated heating and cooling companies about these regulations.

Angie’s List Tips: Options for homeowners

As for preventing an AC leak to avoid the cost of topping off your coolant, Howald says it's pretty much unavoidable.

“There’s really not a lot a homeowner can do to prevent a leak. With an air conditioning system that sits outside in the wintertime when it gets extremely cold and then in the summertime it gets warm and then the unit operating with some vibration, maybe it gets hit by the lawnmower guy whose using a weed eater or whatever, all those things – just the expansion and contraction can create a leak and it’s pretty tough for a homeowner to do anything about it," he explains.