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Cooling systems that use Freon could end up costing consumers money

Does your cooling system use Freon? If so, you could end up paying thousands of dollars more than you need to because Freon will become illegal to sell in less than three years. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Does your cooling system use Freon? If so, you could end up paying thousands of dollars more than you need to.

Freon will become illegal to sell in less than three years, so you could be throwing money out the window.

R22, otherwise known as Freon, is no longer made in the U.S.

"Something called the Montreal Protocol that United States is part of stopped the production of R22 in the United States because of its impact on the ozone layer.

Duane Gentry, president of Gentry Heating and Cooling, said we're still using the old supply.

"We pay upwards of $800 a jug for a cylinder of refrigerant now versus several years ago maybe $30, $35,” Gentry said.

If you spring a leak or your system malfunctions, you could temporarily keep using Freon.

"In a lot of cases, it's up over $2,000 to have a repair if it's an R22 system,” Gentry said.

You could get a new system that uses a Freon alternative.

"It's primarily called R410a, which is a less invasive type of refrigerant,” Gentry said. "It still has an impact on the environment, but much less."

The alternative is a little costly.

"New systems range anywhere from, I would say, $4,500 all the way up to $10,000,” Gentry said.

But, here's the catch, by January 2020 it will be illegal to sell Freon, so, you'll be forced to upgrade.

"My personal suggestion is that people weigh the costs. If you're looking at a repair that's $200 to $300, it may not make sense to replace your system at that time. But you get into the $1,000 or more repair and your system has several years of age on it. Most systems only last about 15 years, if they're well maintained. Then you have to weigh the cost and determine maybe it's time to go ahead and make the replacement," Gentry said.

There are some alternatives that mimic Freon, where you wouldn't have to get a new system.

But, these alternatives are difficult to install properly, they're expensive, slightly flammable and less efficient than the alternatives.

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