Take care of your refrigerator & AC

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Description

It is critically important to ensure the chemicals in your refrigerator and air conditioning (AC) units (if you happen to have one) do not leak. Especially at the end of their life, make sure they are properly disposed. These chemicals have 1000+ times the greenhouse gas potency of carbon dioxide, and yet most people have no idea.

Every refrigerator and air conditioner contain chemical refrigerants that absorb and release heat to enable chilling. Commonly used chemicals called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are particularly harmful at causing the Earth to overheat.

After being carefully removed, these refrigerants can be purified for reuse or transformed so they do not cause warming. If everyone managed their refrigerants properly, it would be the equivalent of taking 629 MILLION cars off the road!

In October 2016, world leaders met in Kigali, Rwanda and agreed to phase out HFCs—starting with high-income countries in 2019, then some low-income countries in 2024 and others in 2028. Until less polluting options become more mainstream, be sure that your air conditioners and refrigerators are properly taken care of.

Tips

• If your unit is slowly losing its cool it is likely a sign of a leak that should be take care of right away. Have a repair person come out to take a look or take smaller units into a shop.

There are a few options for proper disposal of an old unit:

• Check with your utility company to see if it offers an appliance-recycling program and whether you quality for incentives. Some utility companies may offer you money or simply offer pickup service free of charge.

• Check with your local government agencies if there are any local programs or systems in place to help with disposal. Search for agency names like Sanitary District, Public Works and Waste Management. You may be able to have your old unit picked up off for free or a nominal charge.

• Contact local appliance retailers or AC contractors and ask if they have a removal program. Often they will properly dispose of an old unit when a new one is purchased through them.

• Hire a professional to remove the HFCs with special tools. Many appliance stores or air conditioning companies can handle this. Then you can find any local scrap metal recycler to take the unit. Many of these scrappers cannot handle an old unit without the polluting chemicals escaping.

Level of action

    Household

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