The Air Conditioning Contractors of America and the Thermostat Recycling Corporation have sent a letter of support to associations representing utility companies, policy makers and environmental advocates who are engaged in the replacement of old thermostats with new, more energy-efficient models.
However, with that support comes a call to be watchful that their good intents are not sullied by a failure to responsibly dispose of replaced mercury-containing thermostats.
In the letter, ACCA and TRC underscore their apprehension that inadequate oversight of thermostat replacement procedures could lead to the improper handling or disposal of mercury.
The letter notes that there have been too many instances where mercury-containing thermostats have been left behind with consumers rather than properly disposed. This is particularly confounding given that the TRC has an effective mercury-containing thermostat collection process in place that is widely accessible and offered at no-cost.
“Contractors are concerned that thermostat replacement programs, which often encourage consumers to change out their own thermostats, are not adequately educating consumers about environmental regulations and laws that require mercury-containing thermostats to be recycled in a specific manner,” said Todd Washam, ACCA director of industry and external relations. “The lack of consumer education and awareness could lead to older mercury-containing thermostats being disposed of in a manner that is harmful to human health and the environment. Thermostat replacement program sponsors must work closely with industry professionals who are trained on the proper collection and disposal methods.”
Ryan Kiscaden, executive director of the Thermostat Recycling Corporation, adds: “The replacement of old thermostats with new energy-efficient models sends a good message. Ensuring that the replaced mercury-containing thermostats are responsibly disposed of sends a great message. This is especially true in low-income service areas where environmental justice concerns are paramount.”