Home & Living

Amazon Home Services Will Eliminate All Your Household Chores

Man Putting Together Self Assembly Furniture In New Home On Both Knees
Man Putting Together Self Assembly Furniture In New Home On Both Knees

Now THIS is improving home improvement.

Amazon on Monday launched Amazon Home Services, a new section of the site that allows less-than-motivated homeowners to purchase services at the tap of a screen.

Essentially, Amazon is looking to make unsavory household chores A LOT easier. Need someone to build that new IKEA bookcase? Simply schedule a day and time, pay and Amazon will have a pro contact you to confirm.

Other home improvement services include desk, bed and other furniture assembly, washer or dryer installation and room painting. You can have a handyman, plumber or cleaner stop by or hire an interior designer to do a total redesign. In total, there are more than 700 services available.

Oh, and don't forget the goat grazer, who will gladly munch your overgrown lawn.

Amazon says the local pros listed on the site have been professionally vetted and background checked. You'll order their services and pay just like you would with a regular Amazon purchase, then watch as a pro does the dirty housework you've been dreading.

But if you'd rather not have an Internet giant as your housecleaner, don't forget about other locally-sourced service search engines like Angie's List, Craigslist and the home improvement sections of Zillow and Houzz.

Amazon Home Services is currently available in 30 major cities, and each service comes with the site's 100 percent happiness guarantee.

Any way you slice it, we're 100 percent happy about this.

Before You Go

Low-Flow Shower Heads
A low-flow showerhead can save lots of money on utility bills. But not all such heads are made equal, so there’s something to be said for sacrificing the quality of your shower for the quantity of your savings. One showerhead that earns solid reviews is the Evolve Roadrunner II (from $39.95 with about $13 s&h, a low by $12). This showerhead allows you to warm up the shower, then cuts the flow to a trickle once the water hits 95 degrees. Then, you pull a cord on the showerhead to resume the normal flow of water, thus saving on hot water costs.

Payback Time: Evolve claims its showerhead will pay for itself in two months time, and estimates an annual utility savings of about $250. Of course, how much you save depends on your water use, utility rates, and whether you sing "Happy Birthday" in the shower or "Bohemian Rhapsody."

(Photo by Steven Depolo/Flickr Creative Commons)
Plastic Window Wrap
Taping up your windows isn't kind of home accoutrement that will win you any awards from Architectural Digest, but some people swear by plastic window wrap as a way to keep energy costs down by keeping the cold out. It's a simple fix, too: by putting plastic film over a window (and this works best for older windows), you cut down on the heat loss through the pane. This does nothing to control heat loss through a low-quality frame, though.

Payback Time: A typical window insulation kit runs about $15 and will work on five windows. And it will easily pay for itself over the course of just one winter. Josh Peterson of TLC's How Stuff Works estimates you'll save $20 per window, or $100 total.

(Photo by Amanda Watson/Flickr Creative Commons)
Replacement Windows
Wrapping old windows is just a temporary fix for the larger issue of replacing your windows. Depending on how drafty your living space you may want to consider upgrading from single-pane windows, especially if you're getting clobbered on your energy bill. The trouble is, replacing your old windows isn't cheap. Homewyse.com estimates it costs between $2,673 and $3,550 to upgrade eight mid-level windows, including installation. Is there any hope of seeing through to a payback?

Payback Time: The good news here is that the Energy Star forecasts big savings on replacement windows that earn its certification. You'll save anywhere from $126 to $465 a year for an area covering 2,000 sq. ft. On the downside, it could take roughly 10 years before you'll see a payback. The long timeframe, though, is mitigated by an immediate increase in comfort and visual aesthetics to your home. And if you're handy enough to install your own windows, you could cut the up-front costs by at least 25%.

(Photo by Kevin Clark/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
Learning Thermostats
Learning thermostats are glorious devices that computerize control of your heating and cooling. Programmable models such as the Nest Learning Thermostat allow you to set your home's temperature via smartphone, thanks to the device's built-in WiFi. That means you can dial in the right temperature from across the room, or across the country.

Payback Time: Nest offers an approximation of savings based on your home's square footage, type of heat used, and whether you use central air. By a very conservative estimate, a Nest thermostat will completely pay for itself in five years. But the timeframe might pass as quickly as 18 months, depending on how closely you stick to a schedule for heating and cooling your home that makes maximum use of the Nest's digital technology.

(Photo by Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)
Attic Insulation
Many homeowners struggle with question of how much insulation and what kind they need to pad their attic rafters. Fortunately the U.S. Department of Energy's program sheet can help determine the best type of insulation for your attic based on your location. In most cases, a 12" layer of insulation is best; to install such material in 300 sq. ft. of attic will run between $110 and $167, according to Homewyse.com.

Payback Time: Get out your slide rules, kids. The U.S. Department of Energy has an insulation payback equation, but like many things associated with the government, it's complicated. Feel free to try it, but you'll need to know not just the cost of your energy and the cost of insulation, but also the efficacy rating of your heating system, the R values of your new and current insulation, and the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow, to quote Monty Python. Or, you can trust CoolCalifornia.org's forecast that insulating your attic should pay for itself in about two to three years.

(Photo by Brett and Sue Coulstock/Flickr Creative Commons)
Ceiling Fans
The mighty ceiling fan might look like a mere decorative device, but it's a secret weapon for keeping energy costs down. It works in both warm and chilly seasons because a ceiling fan circulates air. So as the warm air in your living space rises, a ceiling fan forces it back down to where it's needed, working optimally at a low speed and in a clockwise direction.

Payback Time: If you adjust your thermostat in accordance with ceiling fan use, you'll save a minimum of 10% off your heating and cooling costs. The trick is not to run the fan and your air (or heat) at full blast, but to raise your thermostat in the summer, and lower it in the winter, letting the ceiling fan do the work. Assuming it takes two $50 ceiling fans to cover your main living space, and your energy costs average $150 a month, you'll see payback within seven months.

(Photo by Eugene Kim/Flickr Creative Commons)
Refrigerators these days can do just about anything, including give you the weather forecast and broadcast your thoughts to the world via Twitter. However, most of us don't think of buying a new refrigerator as a cost-saving move even though refrigerator technology has made dramatic strides since the 1970s. Nowadays new appliances use less energy compared to old ones. Shop around and you can easily find a new fridge for about $800 range.

Payback Time: Once again, EnergyStar.gov has a calculator to help you calculate how long it'll take for you new refrigerator to pay for itself. Assuming that your old fridge is from 1980-1989, and measures about 20 cu. ft., you'll save $150 a year operating a new Energy Star fridge. Assuming you can pay $900 or less for the replacement, payback time is six years away.

(Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr Creative Commons)

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