The home appliance industry has a long history of transitioning to refrigerants to improve energy efficiency, cost-effectiveness and safety, and reduce environmental impacts. The industry is currently transitioning away from very high-GWP (global warming potential) hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants in refrigerators and freezers, room air conditioners, portable air conditioners and dehumidifiers.
Home appliance manufacturers have committed to transitioning out of the use of very high-GWP refrigerants and foam blowing agents in household refrigerators and freezers. The industry is committed to reducing its environmental footprint, and this transition is an achievable goal. California enacted a law that recognizes the unique challenges of transitioning out of HFCs for refrigerators and freezers, and provided some additional time to do this safely and cost effectively. It is important that there are not differing requirements in other states so consumers and the environment benefit from a national solution.
The leading alternative to current HFC refrigerants for refrigerators and freezers is isobutane, which EPA approved for use in home appliances in 2011. Effective Sept. 7, 2018, EPA increased the allowable charge size for isobutane in home appliances to 150g, a move necessary for the transition. Isobutane is not classified as an ozone-depleting substance and has a very low GWP.
Home appliance manufacturers are taking the lead to protect the environment and are moving forward with phasing out very high-GWP HFCs as refrigerants and foam blowing agents for household refrigerators and freezers.
The transition will affect the servicing of cold appliances. AHAM has published “Safe Servicing of Cold Appliances: Recommended Practices” as guidance for the providers of service and maintenance on appliances that may contain newer refrigerants. The guidance is available in both English and French.