New a/c regulation means it will cost you more to keep cool

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What you need to know

PHOENIX - One-hundred-degree heat is right around corner and if your air conditioner is on its last leg, there is a "chilling change" that you may want to know about.

Fifteen years ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) passed a new regulation that changed what kind of freon your home's air conditioning unit could use and instead of making repairs, you may have to buy an entire new one.

In many ways, Guy Phillips' job has not changed in decades. He uses the same tools and the same tape but in a matter of months, he will be doing it differently.

Phillips explains, "It's also more expensive. The freon's more expensive."

Beginning next year, air conditioning units that use R22 freon, which most older homes do, will not be allowed on the market. The new R-410 units use freon that does not harm the ozone but it means a small problem could mean a big payout.

"If you have a split system, which means one in the attic and one outside on the ground, the one outside, if the compressor goes out, you can't just change that," Phillips says. "Next year you're going to have to change both of them. You're going to have to go in the attic and take that unit out and put a new one in."

Phillips says no one has to replace their functioning older units and of course "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," but some say you may just want to make sure it's running right.

Phillips says, "Now, if your compressor goes out outside, you can get an R-22 condenser."

So the heat is on and the clock is running before keeping cool costs a little more.

"So next year, your choice is going to be pay $8,000 to get a new system or keep repairing your 40-year-old system forever," Phillips admits.

He says the R-410 systems typically cost about $500 more but most builders have been installing them in new homes for more than 10 years.

The new regulation goes into effect on Jan. 1.