The Nest learning thermostat can tell when you leave the house and save energy by turning off the heat or A/C. If you’re leaving home for vacation, however, you can save a lot more by turning your thermostat off entirely.

RELATED: How to Make Your Nest Automatically Detect When You're Away

Normally, when you leave your house, the Nest will turn on Eco Mode. In this mode, the Nest will let the temperature get a little outside your normal comfort range before turning on the heat or air conditioning. So, for example, if you like your house between 69 and 72 degrees, Eco Mode might let your house get down to 65 degrees before turning on the heater. This wastes less energy while still keeping your home a reasonable temperature. Plus, it will take less power to get back to a comfortable temperature when you get home.

If you’re leaving the house for several days, however, you don’t need the Nest to maintain a remotely comfortable temperature. In that situation, Nest recommends turning off your thermostat entirely. When it’s off, the thermostat won’t enter Eco Mode while you’re away. Instead, the heat or air conditioning will only kick on if you fall outside of your safety temperatures. These ensure your house never gets too hot or cold and helps avoid things like freezing pipes or damaging any wood in your home.

We’ll demonstrate how to turn the thermostat off on the web, but the steps are largely the same on the device itself or the phone app. To start, head to Nest’s website and log in.

Next, click on the thermostat you want to turn off.

At the bottom of the screen, click the current thermostat mode button. It should show which mode it’s currently set in.

From the list of modes in the menu that pops up, choose Off.

At this point, your Nest will not adjust your home’s temperature unless it exceeds your safety temperatures.

If you’re going to be gone for a long time, it’s also a good idea to run your fan every once in a while to keep the air circulating. Otherwise, even within your set temperature ranges, you could build up moisture which can warp wood or cause mold to grow. Fortunately, Nest can run your fan every day, even if it’s not heating or cooling your home.

To turn this on, open your thermostat’s page like you did before and click the settings gear icon at the top.

Next, scroll down and click Fan Schedule.

Turn on the toggle under “Every day.” This will make sure that the fan runs for at least part of the day, even if the Nest never needs to turn the heat or air conditioning on. You can also set how long you want the fan to run every hour, in increments of 15 minutes.

While you’re tweaking your settings, you may want to check on your safety temperatures. You would’ve set these when you first installed your Nest, but it couldn’t hurt to check them again before you go on vacation. To find these, once again click on the settings gear icon from the thermostat page, then click Equipment.

At the bottom of the settings list, you’ll see Safety Temperatures. Your chosen temperatures are on the right side. If you’re fine with these, leave them. If you want to edit them, click on Safety Temperatures.

To edit your safety temperatures, drag the handles for each temperature until it’s where you want it. Keep in mind things like pets when choosing a safety temperature. Animals like cats and dogs can usually survive most temperatures that humans can, but pets like birds and lizards have very specific temperature needs. If you’re leaving your animals behind, make sure they—as well as any humans who will drop by to care for them—can be comfortable at the temperatures you choose.

For some shorter vacations, Eco Mode may be a better idea, since it will keep your home comfortable while you’re away. If you’ll be gone longer, though, these precautions should help you save some cash on your energy bill without harming anything in your home.

Profile Photo for Eric Ravenscraft Eric Ravenscraft
Eric Ravenscraft has nearly a decade of writing experience in the technology industry. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, PCMag, The Daily Beast, Popular Science, Medium's OneZero, Android Police, Geek and Sundry, and The Inventory. Prior to joining How-To Geek, Eric spent three years working at Lifehacker.
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