Ask the expert: Switch to a programmable thermostat

5:01 PM, Jan 14, 2013   |    comments
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Bruce from Veazie Asks:

I have a hot water radiator system for heat and hot water. I have a thermostat like the one pictured. My question is can I change this thermostat over to a programmable thermostat ? I've been told in the past that programmable thermostats are for forced hot air only.

Tom Caron, Northeast Inspection Services Answers:

The thermostat you show in the picture is a very common model, used for both forced hot air furnaces and hot water boilers. You can easily change it to a programmable model. Ask your hardware store associate to help you find one that is simple to use. Most importantly, dispose of the old one correctly. It probably has a little bit of mercury in it.

Mark Tibbetts, Executive Director Thermostat Recycling Corp. Adds:

It is illegal to dispose a mercury-added thermostat in regular trash in Maine. Maine residents have an array of options for the proper disposal of mercury thermostats. Retailers are beginning to collect thermostats. Most municipal hazardous waste programs collect them. And through our Thermostat Recycling Corp. (TRC) program, wholesalers of heating equipment collect them as well. Under Maine law manufacturers pay a $5.00 incentive for each mercury thermostat they collect. Maine homeowners can mail thermostats back to TRC as well. More information on the program is at

This story was originally posted on December 1, 2008.

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