Coalition Aims To Stop Automotive Refrigerant Sale Ban

The global community is facing a great threat in the form of the global warming issue. And to address the said problem, different sectors – government or private -are taking steps to prevent the further deterioration of the environment. The main cause of global warming is the amount of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere. Some of the sources of these greenhouse gases are emissions from vehicles which burn fossil fuels and refrigerants. The by-products of using such elements are then released into the atmosphere.

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One of the steps being taken by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is to reduce the amount of refrigerants being released into the air. The agency proposed that the sale of refrigerants to regular consumers be also lessened greenhouse air conditioner. The refrigerant in question is the 134a. The proposition is now on its way through the state legislative body and may well be on its way to becoming a law sooner or later.

Tetrafluoroethane, another name for refrigerant 134a, has an ozone depleting potential that is quite similar to the better known refrigerant 12 or dichlorofluoroethane. This refrigerant is commonly used on automobile air conditioners. CARB is currently aiming to stop the sale of these refrigerants to consumers since it has a significant global warming potential of 1410. One of its more known harmful effects is that it is one of the factors in the forming of acid rain. Recent studies show that the amount of the refrigerant has nearly doubled since its first use in the 1990s.

But the proposed law has encountered a fierce resistance from a collection of consumers whose aim is to stop the ban on the sale of refrigerants to common consumers. In this regard, they have formed a coalition called Stay Cool California. The coalition aims to protect the right of the common automobile owner to work on his or her car in terms of the air conditioning system. The group states that the proposed legislation would place a burden of $167 million or more to fixed and lower income California residents.

If the law proposed by CARB is then passed into a law, consumers will no longer be able to buy auto refrigerants in cans. Their only alternative so as to get this will be to pay repair shops or auto dealerships to perform the work that they can do themselves. This fact has enraged the coalition since it seems to them that instead of going after the more destructive source of greenhouse gases, the agency chose to put the burden on lower income citizens of the state.

Tom Brown, the spokesperson for Stay Cool California, has this to say about the proposed legislation: “Instead of going after oil companies and utilities that emit millions of tons of greenhouse gases, the California Air Resources Board is aiming its regulatory guns on consumers who prefer to work on their own cars. What cost consumers $10 today for a can of auto refrigerant, will cost them $150 or more tomorrow if CARB gets their way. That’s just not fair for those people who cannot afford to take their car to a repair shop to have this very simple and necessary service done.”

The estimated number of homes requiring demolition and rebuild has been estimated to be as many as 2.1 million single family homes. As mentioned, this study modeled only those homes utterly obliterated. It bears mentioning that the cost estimates for constructing new homes with these upgrades must be considered estimates only. The cost of materials, regional labor cost differences, the value of money, the cost of electricity or gas, and many other factors might affect these building costs and therefore, the simple payback period estimates.

With that disclaimer in mind, in terms of the “cost to upgrade”, Scenario 4 proved to be the most expensive initial investment, at $6,003 per home. This initial cost put the simple payback period at about 12.5 years. Yet when this payback period is considered within the context of a 30-year mortgage, that return-on-investment appears more favorable. The next most costly upgrade was Scenario 3 (ENERGY STAR) at a cost $2,754 per home. Yet the ENERGY STAR scenario had a much quicker payback than Scenario 4 (Best Practices) or the less expensive option, Scenario 2 (IECC 2006). The simple payback period for Scenario 3 (ENERGY STAR) was just 7.5 years.

The lesser expensive option was Scenario 2, IECC 2006. This option cost an estimated $1,511 to upgrade the home, yet paid back the initial investment in 8.5 years. The most rapid return-on-investment was found to be the Quick Payback scheme outlined in Scenario 1. The initial investment of $527 paid for itself in just over 2 years. However, due to the lack of envelope and insulation considerations, the “quick payback” scenario is not recommended for the rebuild.

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