When you upgrade your thermostat don’t throw your old one in the trash.
We are big on upgrading thermostats. Many homeowners are still using those round dials that look like they were designed and built in the 1950s. Beyond the design, a new thermostat can save you hundreds of dollars each year. Changing the thermostat is easy, and you can read more about that here. But what to do with the old thermostat? Is it as easy as throwing it into the garbage?
Those old thermostats can contain 3 to 12 grams of mercury making them the largest source of mercury in homes. Mercury thermostats should not go into the normal trash as there’s a good chance that the glass bulb containing the mercury will break. When the mercury from an old thermostat is loose, that’s when it becomes a danger to you and to the environment.
In 1998, three major thermostat manufacturers founded The Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC) which is a non-profit organization that provides simple and free recycling for mercury thermostats. More than 2.1 million mercury thermostats have been collected through the program and as a result 10 tons of mercury has been kept out of our soil, water, and food.
If you’re looking for a location to drop off your old thermometer, TRC has over 3,600 collection points across 48 states where they can be dropped off for safe recycling. Have a look at their site and search by zip code for a drop off location near you.
TRC is also a great resource for the recycling of other items containing mercury through some of the environmental service companies they partner with.
In the meantime, the industry and environmental groups are working on phasing out Mercury thermostats in favor of environmentally friendly and more efficient design, such as programmable electronic thermostats. You can check some of those option here.