Program Helps Ontarians Conserve Energy and Keep Toxic Mercury Out Of Environment

    Conservation program ensures safe disposal of mercury-containing

    TORONTO, Sept. 19 /CNW/ - Ontario's Chief Energy Conservation Officer
Peter Love today safely removed an old mercury-containing thermostat from a
Toronto home and replaced it with an energy-efficient programmable model to
launch the Switch the 'Stat program. This province wide conservation program
connects home and business owners with local contractors to install energy
efficient programmable thermostats and ensure the safe removal and disposal of
the mercury switches found in old mechanical thermostats. The program is run
by the Clean Air Foundation, a Canadian not-for-profit organization, and is
one of their newest initiatives in Ontario aimed at reducing energy
consumption, improving air quality, and protecting the climate.
    "Switch the 'Stat helps home and business owners conserve energy, save
money on their energy bills, and ensures mercury switches are responsibly
disposed of," says Love. "This is an important program that will contribute
towards Ontario reaching its provincial energy conservation goal of saving
1,350 MW by 2010."
    Properly disposing of old end-of-life thermostats is critical to
protecting our environment from the damaging effects of mercury. Mercury is a
potent neurotoxin that is detrimental to human and ecosystem health,
particularly for fetuses and children. Exposure to mercury can lead to
developmental delays, slurred speech, memory loss, difficulty walking,
blindness, paralysis, heart disease, kidney failure, liver damage and even
death at extreme concentrations. Among other mercury-containing consumer
products, many thermostats in use across Ontario still operate with mercury
switches. The goal of Switch the 'Stat is to replace the majority of older
thermostats with new, energy efficient models and to responsibly dispose of
the mercury switches.
    There are more than 850 heating and cooling contractors across Ontario
participating in Switch the 'Stat and all Ontario residents and business
owners with older, non-electronic thermostats are eligible to participate in
the program.
    To make the switch even easier, the Ontario Power Authority is offering
residents a cash rebate of $50 off the installation of a programmable
thermostat until December 31st, 2007. All Ontario residents with older,
non-electronic thermostats are eligible to receive this "Cool Savings Rebate"
as well as participate in Switch the 'Stat. Enbridge Gas Distribution and
Union Gas customers also qualify for an additional $15 on-bill credit for the
purchase of any programmable thermostat.
    Switch the 'Stat is delivered in partnership with the Heating,
Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) and Fluorescent
Lamp Recyclers and is funded by the Ontario Power Authority, Ontario Ministry
of the Environment, Union Gas Limited, and Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc.
    "Switch the 'Stat makes it easy for Ontarians to play a role in
conserving energy and curbing the impact of mercury disposal on the
environment," says Cara Sweeny, Switch the 'Stat Program Manager. "Homeowners
just have to make one phone call and the program, with its partners, takes
care of the rest."

    About Clean Air Foundation

    The Clean Air Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to
developing, implementing and managing public engagement programs and strategic
approaches that lead to measurable emissions reductions, to improve air
quality and protect the climate. The Clean Air Foundation currently manages
seven public engagement programs - Car Heaven, Mow Down Pollution, Keep Cool,
Switch Out, Cool Shops, Go Solar, and Switch the 'Stat.

For further information:

For further information: Myra Reisler, Media Relations, (416) 504-8464
ext. 245,; Cara Sweeny, Switch the 'Stat Program
Manager, (416) 922-9038 ext. 257,

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