Mercury Minimization / Mercury-Containing Thermostats

Mercury-Containing Thermostats Description: Mercury-containing thermostats use mercury tilt switches.

How to Identify: Most Thermostats, other than electronic thermostats, contain mercury. To determine if a thermostat contains mercury, remove the front plate. Mercury-containing thermostats contain one or more small mercury switches.

Amount of Mercury: About 3 grams of mercury are in each mercury tilt switch. Most thermostats have one switch; some have two, and up to six switches are possible.

Alternative Devices: Programmable electronic thermostats are mercury free, and they are more energy-efficient than the mercury models. Look for programmable electronic thermostats that have the Energy Star label.

How to Locate the Device: Thermostats are generally mounted on walls and easily found.

Safe Removal: Remove the entire thermostat using a screwdriver and a pair of wire cutters and store safely. DON'T remove the switches from the thermostat or dismantle the thermostat.

Safe Disposal: Store the entire thermostat in a marked container until it can be sent for proper disposal. In many states, the Thermostat Recycling Corporation operates a recycling program utilizing heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) wholesalers; eventually this program will be in operation nationwide. The wholesalers consolidate thermostats from contractors and send them to recyclers; only whole thermostats are accepted. Contact your HVAC wholesaler to find out whether you can drop off thermostats. If the Thermostat Recycling Corporation program is not yet operating in your state, inquire with your state or local hazardous waste program for information about where you can send mercury thermostats for proper disposal.