October 1, 2008, was the fourth annual Energy Star Change a Light Day, and more than 1.8 million Americans pledged to change at least one lamp at home to an Energy Star-qualified one. Lighting is one of the easiest things to change in a home and is the first step in the new pledge to “Change the World, Start with Energy Star.” The Environmental Protection Agency (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 … that protecting the environment, while saving money, is as easy as changing a bulb,” said Stephen L. Johnson, EPA administrator. “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.”

Building on the success of last year’s campaign, the new Energy Star pledge offers other ways to save energy. The EPA suggests some owners change one lamp to a more energy-efficient one, seal and insulate their home, power down computers when they are not in use, program their thermostat to save energy when no one is home, and choose Energy Star-qualified products. If every American household took the pledge, it 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.

According to the EPA, 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. These pledges will save another $220 million in energy bills.