If you are a landlord who has an air conditioning unit in any of your properties, are you aware of the legislation with regard to the refrigerants that can be used in them from 2015? The refrigerant in question is one known as R22, as its use causes the release of hydrofluorocarbons into the atmosphere, contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer, which is of importance not just to our health but to the wider environment. While since 2010 it has been illegal to purchase virgin R22 for servicing and maintaining air conditioning units, from January 2015 it will no longer be permissible to use even recycled R22. So what are your options if you currently have a unit that uses R22?Replace existing equipment
The most environmentally friendly option is to switch to alternative air conditioning equipment; this is generally the best option if you have older units. For instance, the newer style R410A inverter units can be as much as 30% more energy efficient than the equipment that uses R22. As a result, not only is energy usage and carbon dioxide emissions reduced, but running costs are also cut significantly, so in the long run as a landlord you too benefit from this change. If however you are put off by the initial outlay required to replace units in all your properties, you may well be able to make use of an interest free loan that will cover the cost of improvements such as this that will improve the energy efficiency of the homes you own.
Retrofit an existing unit
Whether this option is open to you will depend on the age, condition and type of air conditioning units you currently have in place. If so, it is possible to adapt the existing unit with new technology allowing the system to then take permitted refrigerants. However, it is important to consider how efficient and reliable the system will then be and remember that the work must only be completed by engineers qualified to do so; taking this into account, you may decide it makes more sense to replace your existing equipment after all.
In theory you could decide to do nothing at present, as if needed until 31st December 2014 you can still use recycled R22. However, its supply is expected to dwindle and with this, costs are set to rise. This can only be a short term plan though, as especially if your air conditioning equipment is used regularly, there is a good chance that it will break down and need the refrigerant replacing. The best action is to explore your options now while you still have time to decide how you wish to proceed before the change in legislation on air conditioning refrigerants comes into force.
By Amy Millband