What is R-410A, and what does it mean if my AC uses it?

Historically, air conditioners– like refrigerators and other appliances that perform cooling functions– have used R-22, also known as “freon,” as a coolant. Although the name “Freon” is actually trademarked by DuPont, a major chemical manufacturing company, it’s the most common name for R-22. Although using R-22/freon in air conditioners is quite safe for humans, it was discovered that freon acts as a major greenhouse gas, contributing to ozone depletion. This has led to alternatives like R-410A, which are more environmentally friendly. Because it’s better for the environment, R-410A is becoming the standard refrigerant for modern air conditioners. Although some models still use freon/R22, it will actually be phased out by 2020.