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Rising demand for energy-efficient HVAC systems is expected to drive up prices in 2024. Heat pumps are one area where demand is skyrocketing. Federal income tax credits were extended until 2032, which enables people to receive up to $3,200 each year on home upgrades that increase energy efficiency.

For Floridians, one change hit last year. Central AC systems available in 2023 had to meet the new SEER 2 standards. With the SEER 2 standards came an increase in efficiency, so not only do homeowners qualify for federal tax incentives, but they also get a more efficient system that uses less energy and lowers electricity bills. 

That covers some of the changes in 2023. What’s happening in 2024 in terms of central AC and HVAC systems? Here are the changes and advancements you need to know about.

R-410A Is Phasing Out

Years ago, Freon (R-22) was the main coolant used in AC systems. Freon is a pollutant that contributes to greenhouse gases, and its use was phased out in 2010. Puron (R-410A) replaced Freon. However, R-410A is still a greenhouse gas and hydrofluorocarbon. In 2020, Congress passed the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, which aims to cease the use and production of hydrofluorocarbons, which means R-410A has to phase out.

In place of R-410A, more environmentally friendly refrigerants like R-32 (difluoromethane) or R-454B (a blend of difluoromethane, hydrofluorocarbon, and tetrafluoropropene) will be used in AC units and other appliances that require coolant. The global warming potential (GWP) of R-454B is 78% lower than R-410A, which currently makes it the best choice for new central AC systems.

The problem is that R-454B is slightly flammable, so it requires proper handling. It doesn’t mean the coolant is going to catch fire if you smoke nearby or light a stove. It just requires special procedures when working on HVAC systems with R-454B. That’s where training comes into play. AC technicians and installers need the proper equipment before installing or repairing an AC system using R-454B. Any technician with an EPA Section 608 certificate is set to work with this refrigerant. Tools that are not A2L-approved need to be upgraded.

What’s important to keep in mind is that this change isn’t taking place overnight. If you had a new central AC system installed a few years ago, the goal is to get systems with R-410A phased out over a 15-year timeframe. You don’t have to rush a new purchase, but you do need to keep it in mind when it’s time for a major repair of your system. Replacement often ends up costing less in the long run as you gain efficiency leading to lower bills and the benefit of warranty coverage.

As time goes on, older AC systems that spring a leak and need a refrigerant top-up may find the cost increases as R-410A becomes harder to get hold of. It’s all the same experience that people had as Freon phased out.

GWP Limits

Global warming potential (GWP) is worth mentioning. Current EPA limits are 2,500, which makes R-410A okay as its GWP is 2,088. Starting January 1, 2025, the limit drops to 750. Central AC systems that are manufactured at that point must contain coolants with a GWP of 750 or less.

Newer Technologies May Cut Energy Usage

Most AC systems reduce humidity and cool the air at the same time. A start-up out of Massachusetts is working on a system that first uses a sponge-like desiccant, similar to silica gel, to draw moisture out of the air. Once the air is dry, cooling begins. The heat removed from the dry air is then used to dry out the desiccant for reuse. They claim the system uses 35% less electricity than current AC systems.

A company out of Florida is testing an AC system that uses liquid salt as the desiccant. That system reduces yearly electricity use by as much as 60%.

Predictive Maintenance Saves Hassle

The use of AI appears everywhere, and there’s one aspect of daily living where it has a lot of promise. For predictive maintenance, AI examines different components of machines to determine when maintenance is required. It catches issues when they’re still minimal and less likely to cause a system failure. 

With predictive maintenance, you aren’t going to experience a sudden AC failure on the hottest day of the summer. AI alerts you to something changing so that you can call a Miami AC maintenance and repair expert and have the issue addressed before it worsens.

Currently, some of the HVAC brands that can offer predictive maintenance options are Carrier, Ruud, and Trane. There are others, too, so if that feature is important to you, ask your AC installer for smart AC systems.

Carrier – InteliSense™ offers diagnostics that you access in real-time from your device. The sensors communicate with the entire system to diagnose and troubleshoot potential issues. Florida AC technicians can connect to your system to run diagnostic software before coming to your home.

Ruud – EcoNet is a system offered on select AC brands where maintenance and AC care alerts go to the app on your phone. If repairs or service are needed, it’s a quick click to find out what to do.

Trane – One of the biggest benefits of Trane’s technology is that Trane Diagnostics allows AC technicians to diagnose and evaluate your system remotely. If the repair or adjustment is something that can be managed remotely, Trane Diagnostics allows a technician to avoid making the trip to your home. The Trane App also helps with customizing the system to match your comfort needs.

Know When It’s Time to Replace Your System

An AC system in Southern Florida has a lifespan of approximately 10 to 15 years, depending on how well-maintained it is. There are some things you can do to extend the life of your central AC system.

  • Change filters regularly.
  • Have ducts cleaned as recommended.
  • Keep up with scheduled maintenance like coil cleanings.
  • Pay attention to changes in the noise your system makes.
  • Watch for leaks and call immediately if you notice one.
  • Avoid DIY installations and repairs as they can lead to headaches.

All Year Cooling keeps you updated on all the new requirements, upcoming trends, and efficient AC systems to ensure you get a system that meets your budget while also being the most efficient possible. Our technicians continually attend classes and training programs to learn everything there is to know about technological advancements in AC systems and the best practices for heightening efficiency.

Let us know how we can help. Whether you’re in the market for a new central AC system or are interested in having your attic insulation inspected or upgraded, give us a call or reach us online. We’re an FPL Participating Independent Contractor (PIC), which means we can help you qualify for instant rebates on a new AC unit and ceiling insulation.

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