The advanced technology available with today’s thermostats offers comfort and convenience beyond what older models deliver. For that reason, many homeowners choose to replace their thermostats for a quick and affordable HVAC upgrade. When replacing your existing unit, learn about HVAC thermostat recycling options for safe, environmentally friendly disposal.
Do Thermostats Need to Be Recycled?
Most people associate mercury with their thermostat – that’s because up until recently, it was used to control their operation. Bimetal coils within the thermostat contract or expand depending on the room’s temperature. The contraction or expansion activates a mercury switch, and the mercury switch either opens or closes the circuit, turning on or off the heating or cooling system.
Starting in 2001, states started passing legislation restricting sales of thermostats containing mercury. In response, most manufacturers have stopped using mercury in new thermostats. As of October 1, 2007, it is illegal to sell mercury-containing thermostats in the state of Maryland. However, mercury thermostats have a long service life, lasting 30 to 50 years on average, so it isn’t uncommon for mercury thermostats to still be in use in some homes.
Many states have also outlawed regular disposal of mercury thermostats, mandating that HVAC thermostats must be recycled. In Maryland, there are several drop-off recycling locations for thermostats.
Why Upgrade to a New Thermostat?
Mercury thermostats are outdated technology in the HVAC world, in addition to posing environmental risks. These older models offer limited functionality, and temperatures must be manually adjusted. Simply put, they aren’t very energy efficient.
Upgrading to a basic programmable thermostat offers the ability to generate far more energy savings compared to manual mercury models. The ability to program temperature changes around the schedule of your household cuts back on energy waste while still keeping the home comfortable when needed. Today’s Wi-Fi and smart thermostats offer even better savings, along with unmatched convenience.
Identifying Mercury Thermostats
Non-programmable thermostats that use a dial or lever to adjust temperature settings are likely to contain mercury. To check your thermostat, gently remove the cover and inspect the interior of a small ampule containing mercury. If you still have the thermostat’s packaging or instruction manual, look for the elemental symbol “Hg,” which indicates mercury.
Mercury thermostats are safe only as long as the mercury ampule is intact and not damaged. When these thermostats are thrown away with everyday trash, it is likely that the ampule will be damaged at some point, allowing mercury to become an environmental hazard.
Where to Recycle Your Mercury Thermostat
If you hire an heating and cooling contractor to replace your old mercury thermostat, the contractor will handle safely recycling the unit. If you replace the thermostat yourself, you need to take the old, mercury-containing thermostat to a designated recycling corporation or center with an HVAC thermostat recycling program. Not all centers accept mercury, though.
HVAC thermostat recycling drop-off locations in Maryland can be found throughout the state at various health departments and solid or hazardous waste department facilities. You may also search the Thermostat Recycling Corporation’s database by ZIP code to find a collection site near you. Click here to find a collection site.
Replace Your Thermostat with Grove HVAC
Whenever you replace an old thermostat, you must determine if recycling is required. When you work with Grove Heating & Cooling, you don’t have to worry about it – our technicians will dispose of it for you! Trade in your old, inefficient, environmentally hazardous mercury thermostat today and take advantage of the energy savings possible with new models! Call Grove Heating & Cooling to find out more.