Kurt and Christine Schroeder sailed the world together for 14 years. In 1995, Kurt, 72, parked his sailboat in Guam and made the decision to work at a dental office there. Everything changed, however, when the German couple left Guam four and a half years later and set their sails north in the direction of Rota. When the couple arrived on the island they instantly fell in love with it and what was supposed to be only a week hiatus turned into years, when they decided to retire and live on the southern island.
It was in 1999 when Kurt decided to purchase two house lots on the island to build his “green dream house” with his wife, Christine. With a bathroom, two kitchens, a guesthouse, entertainment center, garage, and laundry room, their household has everything every other person on the island has. The difference is that for the past seven years now, their power and water bill is one digit, zero.
With several solar panels on the roof, pipes and water bins to catch rainwater, and a wind turbine surrounding the house, the couple is totally independent when it comes to running water and electricity throughout their home. Even the position and angle of how the house was built means they don’t have to use an air conditioner.
“We built the house in the shape of a ‘V’ facing out into the ocean so we can catch the fresh air and ocean breeze,” Kurt said.
This “green dream house” cost them $60,000 and six months worth of construction. It has several air vents at the top and bottom of the walls facing the ocean that allow cool air to enter and hot air to exit. According to Kurt, the inspiration behind the air vents came from similar houses he saw while visiting Polynesia in the early ’90’s.
The couple owns one small truck for agricultural purposes and a moped to get around. As for how much energy can be stored, the couple shared that they have two power stations. One station inside the house holds 13 six-volt batteries and the power station located outside holds 12 13-volt batteries.
“Some nights our batteries are so full that we do not have enough space to store the extra energy collected. They are full most of the time,” Kurt said.
The couple is not only environmentally friendly when it comes to water and electricity. They also get three fourths of their food from their front yard garden, according to Christine.
“We buy some of our food from the stores, but most of the time it is from our garden depending on the weather,” she said.
She grows a variety of fruits and vegetables: cabbage, asparagus, eggplant, avocados, bananas, pineapples, and even a macadamia nut tree. The couple raises chickens that lay “more eggs than we can eat” every day and ducks that help protect their garden from slugs.
“We have so much eggs sometimes I give them away and you never see any slugs around the garden,” Christine said.
Over the past several years, students from public and private schools as well as many other local residents have visited their home and toured the garden.
Although they have resided on Rota for almost a decade now, Kurt wonders why not many more people on the island look into adapting some of the features of their “green home” into theirs.
“It is so easy to do. There really is nothing to it and everybody can do it,” he said.
The couple has no plans to expand the house, but they said that they do plan on extending their stay for a very long time. “So far it looks like we will be staying here for the rest of our lives.”
The Schroeder couple has five grown children.