How to Turn Your Smart Lights Off When Your Nest Enters Away Mode

If you have smart lights like Philips Hue, you can turn them off automatically when you leave to save power. However, if you also have a Nest thermostat, it’s handier (and more effective) to turn off your lights whenever your thermostat enters Away mode.

We’ve covered how to automatically turn off your smart lights when you leave the house. That technique uses a feature called geofencing to determine when you’ve left your home. The only problem is that most smart lights only monitor one phone. If you leave the house, but your spouse, kids, or roommate are still home, you might end up leaving them in the dark.

If you have a Nest thermostat, you can get around this in a way that makes much more sense. Nest has an Away mode aimed to save you money on A/C and heating. But unlike Hue, Nest allows you to add other users to your account and use them to trigger Away mode too. That way, when those users share their location with Nest, the thermostat doesn’t just wait for you to leave the house—it waits for everyone connected to the account to leave.

This gives us a handy trigger for turning off your other smart gadgets. After all, if your thermostat turns off, there’s a pretty good chance no one needs the lights on, either.

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For this, we’re going to use a service called IFTTT (If This Then That). If you haven’t used IFTTT before, check out our guide to getting started for info on how to create an account and connect apps. Then, come back here to create the necessary applet.

This applet will use the Nest Thermostat channel. You’ll also need to enable you smart lights channel. You can use this applet with Philips Hue, LIFX, and Belkin WeMo lights, but we’ll demonstrate with Philips Hue. We’ll assume that you already have your Nest set up and that all your family members are already connected to your account. If they’re not, follow our guide here.

Once you’re ready to get started, head to IFTTT’s website and click your profile picture in the top-right corner of the site.

Next, click New Applet in the drop down box.

Click the word “this” highlighted in blue.

Search for the Nest Thermostat channel in the list and click on it.

In the list of triggers, find “Nest set to Away” and click on it.

On the next screen, choose the Nest thermostat you want to monitor from the drop down list (if you have more than one), then click “Create trigger.”

Next, click the word “that” highlighted in blue.

Search for the Philips Hue channel in the list and click on it.

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In the list of actions, choose “Turn off lights.”

In the drop down box, choose which lights you want to turn off. For this applet, we’re going to turn off all of the lights.

Give your applet a name, then scroll down and click Finish.

Now, whenever your family leaves the house, all the lights will turn off. This should have a lower chance of leaving someone at home in the dark, since Nest will only enter Away mode when everyone in the house is gone. If you’d like to turn some lights on whenever someone comes home, you can also set up a similar applet to activate whenever your Nest enters Home mode, turning some or all of your lights on.

Eric Ravenscraft covers smarthome tech for How-To Geek. He's a problem solver who never learned to say no to a project. When he's not fixing things, he's cosplaying at cons, playing video games, and watching too many comic book movies. You can follow him on Twitter or Instagram.