Wednesday, October 1, was the 4th annual Energy Star “Change a Light” Day, and more than 1.8 million Americans pledged to change at least one light at home to an Energy Star qualified light, according to a recent EPA press release. These pledges will save $220 million in energy bills and prevent the release of more than 3 billion pounds of greenhouse gases. Lighting is one of the easiest things we can change in our homes and is the first step in the new pledge to “Change the World, Start with Energy Star.” EPA is challenging Americans to take the newly expanded pledge to make saving energy a bigger part of their lives.

“More and more Americans are seeing the light — that protecting the environment, while saving money, is as easy as changing a bulb,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “Whether replacing old appliances with Energy Star-qualified ones or installing programmable thermostats, together we are reducing America’s energy use and changing the world.”

EPA commends those small and large businesses, K-12 schools and universities, religious congregations, military bases, and state and regional utilities that went beyond the call of last year’s campaign. They played an integral role by promoting energy efficiency, gathering individual pledges, and educating their communities about ways to fight climate change. The following organizations were responsible for inspiring more than 600,000 “Change a Light” pledges: Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Salt River Project, Georgia Power Co., Southern California Edison, Santee Cooper, CB Richard Ellis, Kentucky NEED Project, and Virginia for Leading Governments.

Building on the success of last year’s campaign, the new Energy Star pledge has advice on other ways to save at home and at work. Pledge to change one light in your home to a more energy efficient one, seal and insulate your home, power-down computers when they’re not in use, program your thermostat to save energy when no one is home, and choose Energy Star qualified products. If every American household took the pledge, we would save more than 110 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and $18 billion in annual energy costs, while preventing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to more than 18 million cars annually.

Energy Star was introduced by EPA in 1992 as a voluntary, market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Today, the Energy Star label can be found on more than 50 different kinds of products as well as buildings and new homes. Products that have earned the Energy Star prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy-efficiency specifications set by the government. In 2007 alone, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved $16 billion on their energy bills while reducing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 27 million vehicles.

Information about the “Change the World, Start with Energy Star” campaign and pledge:

EPA’s video on the “Change the World, Start with Energy Star” campaign: