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Teaching Nest to save energy.

Nest showing energy usage

In the past, the best way to save energy at home was with a programmable thermostat—and a small minority swore by their programmed schedules. For these people, programming Nest is simple.

But the Nest Learning Thermostat was made for the other 90% of us who rarely or never program our thermostats. Instead of needing to be programmed, Nest learns from you how to save energy. Teach it wisely during its first week in your home and Nest will remember to save energy, even if you forget. Just follow these tips to maximize your savings.

Set your “Away” temperature thoughtfully. Nest’s Auto-Away and manual Away mode will both turn off your system until your home reaches a minimum temperature that you choose during setup. The lower your Away temperature is, the more you’ll save. Just keep in mind the needs of pets and plants before you set it too low.

Turn the temperature down at night. You’re keeping warm under a thick blanket tonight, so turn the temperature down to save energy while you sleep. After a couple nights, Nest will learn this habit and start doing it for you.

Remember that turning the temperature up all the way doesn’t heat your home faster. Cranking the thermostat to 85° doesn’t make the air come out of the vent any hotter, it just runs your heater longer. Use Nest’s Time to Temperature to get a sense of how high or low to set your temp. You may not know if you want it to be 72° or 74°, but it’s easy to see the difference between running the heat for 15 minutes versus an hour.

Watch for the Leaf and check your Energy History. The Nest Leaf appears when you turn Nest to a temperature that saves you energy. The more often you see a Leaf, the more you save. Nest tracks your energy use over time in Energy History, so you can see how much you save.

Use multiple thermostats independently. Say you have one thermostat in the bedroom and another in the kitchen. You spend most of Sunday making pancakes with the kids, so turn the heat up in the kitchen and down in the bedroom and close your interior doors. You’ll save energy in one part of your home while the area where you are stays cozy. Save even more by making sure all your thermostats are in the same mode—either heating or cooling—so they don’t waste energy fighting with each other. And you don’t need to run around the house adjusting multiples thermostats—control them all from your smartphone with the Nest Mobile app.

Turn Nest to Away when you leave on vacation. Set Nest to Away manually to maximize your savings when you’re on vacation. While Auto-Away will automatically turn down the temperature while you’re gone, if it senses activity, like a friend coming over to water the plants, Nest could start warming up the house. Setting Nest to Away manually keeps your home the same temperature till you wake Nest up with the Nest Mobile app or by pressing the ring.

Following these tips will help lower your energy use, and with half the East Coast already knee-deep in snow, we’re going to need all the help we can get. Unfortunately, while Nest can maximize your savings, it can’t control the weather.

That said, even in a blizzard, there’s always more you can do. What energy tips do you follow in your home?