With temperatures dropping below -20 °C in winter, keeping out the cold is a significant concern for many people in Moldova. Their homes often fail to do this and that means more heating, higher bills and a strong impact on the local environment.
But change is in the air: the EBRD’s Moldovan Residential Energy Efficiency Financing Facility (MoREEFF) is providing €35 million in total for credit lines to local partner banks, which are on-lent to customers to finance energy efficiency improvements in their homes.
Galina Cojocaru is one of the homeowners who has tackled this problem and revamped her small blue-painted home in the western town of Ungheni – thanks to the programme, which is supported by the European Union’s Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF) and Sweden.
“There always used to be a draft of cold air entering my house, as the windows were too old and so were the doors,” she explained.
Upgrading them to well-insulated, energy efficient models has made a real difference to her, her husband and their teenaged daughter. Her family can now take off the heavy sweaters they had to wear in the living room, turn down the heating, and Galina can place her favourite plants on the window sill.
Life is more comfortable for her and her family. “It is better, it is warmer and it is prettier,” she said.
MoREEFF has already reached several thousand homes and flats – from traditional houses in rural areas of Moldova to apartment buildings in the capital, Chișinău, and other cities. Many of the latter are built from concrete panelled blocks, which were quickly put up during Soviet times in the 1960s when energy efficiency was not on many people’s minds.
Property developer Dumitru Rusu helped future-proof an old ex-communal block of flats in the city’s outskirts. He insulated the building’s roof, wall and heating system, built ventilation ducts and installed new windows and doors.
In return, he was allowed to extend the building and add new flats on top, which will help him finance the improvements.
Moldova: making homes more energy-friendly
A pioneering financing facility from the EBRD is offering credit lines to local partner banks to finance energy saving measures in homes and apartment blocks in Moldova.
“Other companies in Chișinău have started to use this reconstruction as an example for redeveloping buildings in the capital and elsewhere in the country,” he explained. “This will help us bring in nicer looking, more comfortable and more energy efficient flats and homes.”
Such changes and investments are much needed: Moldova is more than eight times more energy and carbon intensive than the EU average. The biggest culprit is the housing sector, which accounts for over 40 per cent of energy use.
“One of the main goals of MoREEFF is to demonstrate to homeowners the benefits of these energy efficiency investments and in partnership with the Moldovan banks support the development of a sustainable market for such activities,” said Kristina Zagar, Principal Banker in the EBRD’s Financial Institutions team.
“There are many benefits: the programme will help Moldovans cut their energy bills and protect the environment, while providing them with a warmer home,” added her colleague Shahir Zaki, who works in the Bank’s Energy Efficiency and Climate Change team.
The programme helps save 55 million KWh per year, which is equivalent to the domestic electricity use of a city the size of Balti, Moldova’s second largest, he added.
It will help prepare more Moldovans for the next cold season, while at the same time setting the country on a more sustainable path for the future.