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Bringing Personal Energy Savings to a Concrete, Financially Rewarding Leve

| Friday July 24th, 2009 | 3 Comments


Picture%201-13.jpg In recent years, both business and individuals have gotten increasingly clear that it’s necessary to reduce our energy consumption, both for the emissions it produces and the increasingly limited sources of it. Or have they? For most people, aside from their monthly energy bill, there’s little connection to the rest of the world when it comes to energy use.
Carbon offsets, while potentially useful, remain for the most part an abstract thing, removed from people’s daily lives. My Emissions Exchange have come up with an idea that appeals both to people’s desire to do good with their need to get paid.

It goes like this: users submit billing data for the last year, establishing a pattern to go on when looking at future energy use. They actively try to reduce their home energy use, perhaps bolstered by resources such as this. Their reduced use earns them credits within the MyEex system. These are converted in to carbon credits, sold on the market. MyEex takes a small commission, and you the consumer get the rest.
It’s this taking the abstract and bringing into the concrete, the tangible, the directly beneficial that has the strong possibility of helping speed up the pace of needed action in reducing our carbon footprint.
Questions that come up are, what happens if the market for carbon credits collapses? What if such personal carbon credits become so prevalent that there’s not enough market to sustain it? And, I hate to be superficial, but will people take the relatively amateurish website and absurdly cartoonish introductory video seriously? Or is it more a case of “It doesn’t matter what it looks like, if I can get paid, I’m game” ?
Another company worth watching that takes a different, more high gloss, high tech approach is Earth Aid. It adds monitoring capability to the equation, and has social media/networking presence, expanding the community beyond just the individual and their efforts.
However, as this piece in Triple Pundit notes, payment to consumers with Earth Aid are only seen after a year of proven energy savings. Will people be able to sustain interest in this effort for that long? Sure, they’re seeing their energy savings via the Earth Aid monitoring, and their energy bills will reflect their efforts. And yet, the immediacy of MyEex is likely to have more appeal.
Earth Aid is still in testing, and having met their founders, I’m confident they’re open to suggestions for improvements.
Meanwhile, what’s your take on the viability of these companies, these ideas? What other effective tools/systems have you seen out there to effect personal energy use? Add your 2 cents below please.
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations around, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media. Who he has and wants to work with includes consumer, media, clean tech, NGOs, social ventures, and museums.


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  • http://www.bluemapinc.com Oren Jaffe

    Thanks for the thought provoking post Paul. While these companies look like they have a good concept, I still question how they can certify the reduced carbon emissions. The company My Emissions Exchange says they certify themselves. I wonder how long it will take to get caught wrongfully “certifying” users’ carbon emissions. If they get a commission on the reduced carbon, it is in their best interest to potentially inflate the certification numbers. Also, being that the carbon emissions market is still new, it will take time to get these types of companies really solvent.

    Thanks but I will pass for now!

  • http://www.greensmithconsulting.com Paul Smith

    Interesting angle to consider. I wonder if the My Emissions Exchange folks are listening, will respond? But, whether it’s this execution or another, I think that giving people a very tangible, directly beneficial incentive to conserve energy is a wise move that will work.

  • MyEmissionsExchange

    Paul – thanks for the article. You hit the nail on the head in saying “For most people, aside from their monthly energy bill, there’s little connection to the rest of the world when it comes to energy use.” We hope this gives people a true chance to be a contributing part of an era of more sustainable energy use.

    And yes, we DO hope people are laughing at the videos. If we want people to participate, it needs to be inviting, not alarmist.

    Oren – you’re right, it will take some time for these markets to develop. We can, however, tell you that our certification process is our own only because there aren’t precedents for this type of credit. We wouldn’t risk our business by “wrongfully certifying users’ carbon.” Are these good credits? We think so because they come from individuals and families actually reducing energy use and they are measured and verified. How many other actions can individuals take to reduce carbon emissions? Everyone talks about coal fired electric plants but what are you and I going to do about that? Not much – except use less electricity!

    We hope this clears up some issues.