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The Nest thermostat prides itself on exceptional self-learning features that are specifically engineered for energy saving and adapting to your routine habits. However, there might be instances where the pre-programmed schedules may not adequately cater to all situations, indicating that from time to time, manual alterations to the settings may be required.

In this guide, I’ll show you how to disable all of these automated functions.

Why Override Your Nest Thermostat Manually?

Smart thermostats like the Nest have made things easier overall. That being said, there will be certain situations where turning your Nest thermostat to manual makes more sense. These include:

  • When you’re on vacation all week long and you don’t want the thermostat to heat up or cool down an empty house. (Assuming Home/Away Assist is disabled)
  • You want to maintain the same temperature indefinitely.
  • You want to set up a different setpoint when you have guests over.
  • You don’t want the thermostat to reprogram itself based on minor changes.

As such, the settings you will want to disable (based on your preferences) are:

  1. The Auto-Scheduling Function
  2. Eco Temperatures
  3. Home/Away Assist

I’ll show you how to disable each of these functions along with how to set up a permanent hold.

1. Auto-Schedule Function

The Auto-Schedule function, exclusive to Nest Thermostat E and Nest Learning Thermostat models, intelligently adapts your home's temperature settings based on your preferences throughout the day.

Once the thermostat gathers enough data, probably after a week or so, it tailors a personalized schedule designed to maximize comfort and efficiency.

However, if you prefer a more hands-on approach, you can disable the Auto-Schedule feature and manually edit or create a new schedule with fixed parameters.

Turn Off Auto Schedule/Disable Learning via the Nest App

To turn off auto-scheduling via the Nest App:

  1. Open the Nest app
  2. Select your Thermostat from the app's home screen
  3. Tap on Settings (the gear cog icon)
  4. Toggle the “Auto-Schedule” switch

Turn it Off Via the Thermostat

On your thermostat:

  1. Wake up the screen by pressing into it
  2. Scroll to settings and open it
  3. Then, keep scrolling to the right until you find the option titled “Nest Sense”
  4. Tap on this option and select “Auto-Schedule.” Usually, it's the first option at the top
  5. Then tap on “No” or scroll to this option
  6. Press into the screen to confirm changes
  7. Scroll down and tap on “Done”
  8. Scroll to the left until you return to the home screen.

Clear Existing Schedule

When switching to manual mode, you want to clear out your preset schedules, so the thermostat doesn’t go back to following the old routine.

So to clear your existing schedule:

  1. On your Nest thermostat, select Settings
  2. Next, choose Reset and then Schedule.
  3. Finally, depending on your Nest thermostat model, select either “Reset” or “Clear”
  4. Then rotate the ring as instructed to confirm your settings
  5. Hit “Done” and your Nest thermostat will reset the schedule and restart itself

Note: For Nest Thermostat E users, you can select “Basic” to replace your current schedule with the default Basic Schedule.

After resetting the schedule, your thermostat will pretty much function as a manual thermostat. However, don’t for complete manual control you need to turn off Eco temperatures and Home/Away Assist.

Manually Schedule

After you disable auto-scheduling, you can still reinstate the routines via the Nest App, voice commands, or the thermostat itself.

In the Nest App:

  1. Open the Nest app
  2. Pick your thermostat
  3. After that, tap on “Schedule” with the calendar icon
  4. Then follow the instructions on the app to customize your temperature setpoints and time periods as desired.

 On the Thermostat:

  1. Wake up the display
  2. Press the ring button to open the quick-view menu
  3. Rotate the settings until you get to “Schedule” which also looks like a calendar icon, press the ring button to enter the schedule settings
  4. Then rotate the ring to find the necessary setpoint. Click on it to open up the option to remove or change it.
  5. With “Change” you can then adjust the time by turning the ring and pressing the ring button
  6. After that, you can change the temperature by rotating the ring. Press the ring button to confirm
  7. Likewise, you can adjust your scheduled setpoints and create new ones by pressing the ring button in an empty time period
  8. To save and exit changes rotate to an empty time period and tap on the ring button
  9. After that, scroll down to “Done” and press the button to exit

2. Eco Temperatures

The Eco temperatures mode is designed to keep your home cool during the winter or warm during the summer so it can reduce energy costs while no one is at home. 

However, if you don’t want to use this mode and want to control the temperature yourself, you can turn it off.

How to Turn Off Eco Temperature

  1. Wake up the thermostat and head over to “settings”
  2. Scroll the available options until you find, “Eco.” Tap into it
  3. Adjust the temperature values for “Heat to” and “Cool to” using the dial until both values are displayed as “Off”
  4. Then, press into the thermostat to cycle the available options until you get to “Done” and press again to confirm changes and exit the sub-menu.
  5. Make any other necessary changes or scroll counterclockwise until you get to the thermostat home screen

3. Home/Away Assist

The Home/Away Assist function is designed to sense when you are at home or away and prompts the HVAC system to turn on or off, respectively. 

This function works by using the activity sensors in the thermostat and tracking your phone’s location using the Nest app – allowing the thermostat to function based on your activity.

This means that all the Nest thermostats in your home can automatically function based on your being at home or away. However, you don’t have to use this feature if you don’t want to.

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Turning off Home/Away Assist can prevent the Nest thermostat from constantly changing temperatures on its own

How to Turn off Home/Away Assist

  1. Gently touch or click the thermostat to wake up the main screen.
  2. Select the Settings option and rotate the ring to find the “Home/Away Assist” function.
  3. Tap or press on the “Stop Using” option and confirm by clicking ‘Done'.

Manually Override to Hold the Temperature

If you want to maintain a specific temperature indefinitely you can manually override (or hold) the temperature to your desired setpoint.

Keep in mind, however, that you have to disable all the automated features mentioned above (Auto-schedule, Eco Temperature, and Home/Away Assist) and then control the temperature as you would a traditional thermostat.

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With permanent holds, you can control your Nest thermostat similar to a traditional dial thermostat

Hold Feature on the Nest Thermostat (2020 Model)

For the latest Nest thermostat (2020 model), you can easily set up a manual hold without having to disable these automated features. However, this isn't the best option for permanent holds, since you can only hold a Non-Eco temperature for a maximum of 24 hours.

That said, you can set up these holds via the Google Home app or the thermostat itself.

Creating or Setting Up a Temperature Hold in Google Home

  1. First, open the Google Home app and tap on your thermostat's tile icon.
  2. You’ll be greeted by the Nest thermostat’s home screen. Here, check the thermostat’s current settings and make sure the system mode is in either Heat, Cool, or Heat • Cool mode.
  3. Then, adjust the desired temperature on the home screen as desired.
  4. After that, tap on the ‘Hold temperature' setting (Clock icon). From the menu that opens up, pick either the “current temperature” or any other preset you want to maintain during your hold.
  5. You might also have the option to set or pick the “end time” for this hold. If you choose the Eco preset, you can hold the temperature indefinitely. Meanwhile, other presets can only hold for a maximum of 24 hours.
  6. To confirm your temperature hold, tap on “start.”

Canceling a Temperature Hold

To create a new temperature hold or make your thermostat return to its existing schedule, you'll first need to terminate the current hold. To do so:

  1. Launch the Home app and locate the tile of your Nest thermostat.
  2. Check that the thermostat is in the mode (Heat, Cool, or Heat • Cool) that matches the ongoing hold.
  3. Click on ‘Hold temperature' then tap ‘End hold.'

After that, you can let the thermostat run according to its automated schedules or create a new hold as desired.

Setting up a Hold via the Thermostat

  1. Wake up the thermostat screen and tap on the ring button to open the quick-view menu.
  2. Scroll to “Hold” and tap on the ring button. You can easily identify this setting as it’s indicated as a clock icon with hands.
  3. When inside this setting, you get to pick between holding the current temperature or adjusting your temperature as desired.
  4. After setting your temperature, tap on “Continue” to set the time
  5. To define the duration, you can scroll to adjust the time in 30-minute increments.
  6. To finalize your hold, scroll down and tap on ‘Confirm.'

As usual, if there's an existing hold, you'll need to cancel it before applying any changes.

Extra Tips for Managing Your Thermostat's Manual Settings

For the most efficient and accurate readings, don’t forget to consider these extra tips as well:

  • Geofencing: Connect your thermostat to your smartphone so it knows when you're home or away. This helps the home/away assist mode from activating unnecessarily.
  • Optimal Placement: Install the thermostat in a frequently used area like a hallway or common room. This ensures constant detection of your presence and a more accurate reading of your home’s temperature.
  • Customize a Schedule: Create a tailored schedule that fits your daily routine instead of relying solely on default or auto-schedule options.
  • Set up Holds When Necessary: Remember to set up permanent or vacation holds when leaving home for an extended period. This helps reduce energy waste and saves on utility costs.


The smart functions on the Nest thermostat definitely stand up to its name. However, disabling certain automated features such as auto-scheduling and home/away assist can help you wrestle more control over the device.

So if you don’t mind constantly monitoring the thermostat, you can disable these automated functions and use your Nest thermostat as a manual thermostat that doesn’t inadvertently change your home’s temperature.


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1 Comment

  • Michael Cataldo
    Posted November 3, 2022 at 9:37 pm

    I work as a prop maker for tv. Is there a way to power up a Nest thermostat without connecting it to a furnace such that as it sits on a fake wall a hand can turn the outer dial to increase or decrease the setting temp.?
    I am trying to bypass wifi and app requirements so that I can just see the nice large temp setting number change. Thats the only aspect of the device I need to function.
    Thank you

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