What are some alternative refrigerants to HFC?
Common, low-Global Warming Potential alternatives to HFC include: carbon dioxide itself (R-744), ammonia (R-717), hydrocarbons (HC; R-600A, etc.), and hydrofluoroolefins (HFO; R-1234yf, etc.)
Even though many of these alternative refrigerants are greenhouse gases (notably carbon dioxide), one should keep in mind that relative to HFCs, these refrigerants are very climate friendly. For example, carbon dioxide (R-744) has a Global Warming Potential of 1, versus HFC-134A, which has a Global Warming Potential of 1430.
Are there drop-in substitutes for CFCs, HCFCs, or HFCs?
The EPA does not approve any drop-in refrigerant substitutes for the refrigerant classes listed above. In some cases, it is possible to retrofit existing equipment with more benign refrigerants. However, in all cases, refrigerant equipment will need pressure adjustments or other changes in order account for the new refrigerant chemical substitute. It is usually not possible to completely switch refrigerant classes (i.e. from HFC to HC refrigerants) given the different equipment requirements for different refrigerant chemicals.
Why are refrigerant inventories so important?
A refrigerant inventory is the process of catologuing HVAC equipment in a given area and recording what type and quantity of refrigerant is used in each system.
Inventories allow facilities managers to answer key questions, such as:
What percentage of HVAC equipment in my building uses HFCs/HCFCs/CFCs?
Where are the largest sources of refrigerant emissions on campus?
Where is aging/inefficient equipment located?
What is estimated climate impact from refrigerant leakage?
Which high-impact zones can be most easily mitigated?
What's better--buying a new, sustainable fridge or keeping my existing equipment?
Is sustainable HVAC equipment more expensive?
In most cases, no. In fact, supermarkets across the country, such as Trader Joe's and Whole Foods have begun to install low-GWP equipment in their stores.
Should I rent a mini-fridge from my college or university, if possible?
Most mini-fridges that can be rented through Yale are already Energy Star-certified and use low-GWP refrigerants. This means that you don't have to take the extra effort to consult our buying guide!
The third party that rents mini-fridges to students will take care of fridge maintenance annually. This means that your mini-fridge is regularly being serviced, so you can worry less about refrigerant leaks and other system problems.
Renting demands less manufacturing. Most students use their fridges for just a few years. By renting, you can reduce the number of fridges that eventually enter the waste stream.
If you are planning to have a fridge for only a few years, renting can be a cheaper option than buying a fridge. Plus, you'll have people move your equipment in and out of your dorm at the end of the term.
We want to buy a normal fridge for our kitchen, but we don't know what to buy. Does YRI have a buying guide for larger equipment?
YRI produces material on primarily small appliances, but you can visit the Climate Friendly Cooling Campaign's website that lists sustainable equipment alternatives. The site features sustainable options for refrigerators, air conditioners, vending machines, motor vehicle air conditioners, and many other appliances.