Does Your Thermostat Have Mercury in It? Time to UpgradeThermostats hang on the walls of countless millions of American homes, and have done for decades. They’re so ubiquitous they largely go unnoticed, but the pollution threat they pose must be paid attention to. With close to 3.25 million occupied homes in Los Angeles County, the approximately four grams of mercury in those homes still using old technology could add up to some very bad news if they’re not disposed of correctly.

Knowing the Law

On July 1, 2009, a new law went into effect in California. All contractors who remove a mercury thermostat from a home or place of business are obliged to take that device to an authorized recycler. “Mercury is a toxic metal that in its various forms can accumulate in living tissue and cause adverse health effects,” according to the Association of Electrical Equipment and Medical Imaging Manufacturers. “When a mercury thermostat is broken and disposed of in solid waste landfill or incinerator, the mercury can contaminate the air, surface water, and ground water.”

Ramifications for Homeowners

Clearly, these facts are reason for concern for homeowners. If accidentally spilled, mercury can be absorbed through skin or mucous membranes, and adverse effects include chest pains, nervous system disorders and delirium. Keeping a device around your family which comprises such a dangerous element is not advisable.

The Alternative

Happily, most thermostats sold today – including old-fashioned manual units – don’t contain mercury (check the packaging; if a unit you’re considering has “Hg” printed on it, buy another).

Programmable thermostats are by far the best option when upgrading or installing an entirely new system. By maintaining your house at a uniform temperature whether occupied or empty, you’re needlessly running up your electricity bill. Programmable units allow you to choose one temperature for when everybody’s at work or school, and another for when the family’s home. You can even divide the house into different zones. Programmable thermostats save energy, improve your indoor environment and don’t contained mercury.

Homeowners across the greater Los Angeles should contact Around the Clock A/C and Heating to learn more about their options.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Los Angeles, North Hollywood and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about thermostats and other HVAC topics, downloadour free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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