Feature Article

The Cost of Comfort: Climate Change and Refrigerants

Refrigerants with very high global warming potential can negate the energy-efficiency benefits of many HVAC systems, including popular heat pumps.

November 6, 2017

What is the number-one action we can take to reverse anthropogenic global warming? Eliminate coal-fired power plants? Drive electric cars? Install solar panels? Paul Hawken’s new book, Drawdown, calculates and rates the environmental and financial impacts of addressing carbon output across various sectors. According to Drawdown, the number one action we can take to fix our greenhouse gas problem is…to reduce the impact of high-global-warming-potential (GWP) refrigerants.

Reducing those impacts won’t be easy. Refrigerants are the lifeblood of modern society. Refrigerators, freezers, and displays use them to keep our food at a safe temperature. Commercial chillers, air conditioners, mini- and multi-split heat pumps, and variable-refrigerant-flow (VRF) systems use refrigerants for space cooling and heating. They’re even used in vending machines, water coolers, ice machines, dehumidifiers, residential clothes dryers, and water heaters.