Cashing in on cutting carbon at home

CHICAGO, March 20, 2010 (AFP) – Can the promise of a free cupcake or some cold hard cash work better than dire predictions of dying polar bears and rising sea levels at getting people to cut their carbon footprint? Two US-based startup companies certainly hope so.

Energy brokers in White Plaines, New York have launched what they hope will be a global exchange platform for selling carbon offset credits based on cutting home energy use.

They sold the first credit in January for 21.50 dollars — yielding a 4.30 dollar brokerage fee — and expect to sell the second in the coming weeks.

“It’s an experiment,” said Marissa Miraval, campaign manager for MyEex, which runs myemissionsexchange.com.

The concept is simple: finger wagging hasn’t convinced most people to turn the lights off when they leave the room. But paying them a few bucks for putting a sweater on instead of turning up the heat might just do the trick.

Get enough people on board and it can have a real impact on greenhouse gas emissions. And those 20 percent brokerage fee will start to add up.

So far about 2,000 households have signed up and MyEex is working to get its method of using utility bills to track reductions c