Nest Auto-Schedule vs. Manual Schedule: 3 Key Differences

The temperature of your home is completely under your control with Google’s Nest Thermostat.

Scheduled heating and cooling times are an integral part of the Nest’s user-friendliness.

There are two options, and they couldn’t be more different from one another: automatic and manual.

The auto-scheduling function of Nest learns the temperatures you like in your home at different times of the day. After activation, a manual program will keep the house at a constant temperature. Not all Nest products have automatic scheduling, and turning the thermostat to manual mode turns off the other features.

One might assume that a smart thermostat’s settings wouldn’t make much of a difference. But the functional differences between auto and manual modes are substantial.

Table of Contents  Hide 

1. Contrasting Auto-Schedule and Manual Schedule

1.1. Availability
1.2. Mode Functionality
1.3. Eco Mode
2. Summary

Contrasting Auto-Schedule and Manual Schedule 

It’s easy to see how a new Nest user might feel overwhelmed by all the options.

After all, you still use your mobile device to regulate the temperature in your house.

However, there are variations, and those differences are significant.

In the table below, we show the main differences between automatic scheduling and manual scheduling for Nest devices.

Area Auto-Schedule Manual Schedule
Availability  Nest Learning Thermostat
Nest Thermostat E
Google Nest Thermostat
Nest Learning Thermostat
Nest Thermostat E
Mode Functionality  Can learn user temperature preferences for each temperature mode (cool, heat, heat and cool, off, and eco)
“Time to temperature” feature gives estimates of how long homes take to reach the temperature of choice.
Tells users when the energy-efficient temperature is selected, can serve as an energy-saving guide.
Can automatically change to energy-saving temperatures when users aren’t home – called Eco Mode.
Automatically turns heat/cold air off when scheduled
Auto mode can be switched off.
Keeps hot/cold air on until the user turns the thermostat off manually.
All temperatures have to be input manually.
Is only accessible through.
Heat Link feature in UK/Europe
Energy-saving temperatures
Eco Mode Differences Can learn to set energy-saving temperatures
Switches on automatically in “Away” mode to save energy while homeowners are out.
Auto Eco Mode switches back to regularly scheduled temperatures when someone’s home
Can manually set Eco Temperatures at any time
The temperature stays in Eco Mode until the user switches to cool or hot mode

There’s a lot to unpack between auto-schedule and manual mode, so let’s start with the basics:


The original Google Nest Thermostat lacks the learning capability of the other two models, but all three may be controlled remotely.

If the Nest Thermostat doesn’t have a learning feature, it won’t be able to remember the user’s preferred settings.

However, the Nest Thermostat E and the Nest Learning Thermostat do support learning.

When it comes to controlling the temperature in their homes, owners of these models have a

choice between letting the thermostat do it automatically or entering their own settings manually.

Mode Functionality

The learning process for auto-scheduling takes place over the course of a week, and it includes a wealth of handy features.

On the first day, you have to set the temperature by hand or with an Android app or thermostat.

With the Thermostat E, homeowners can choose from a number of settings that are both comfortable and good for the environment.

On day 2, the thermostat will learn how the user likes the temperature to be set by watching what they do all day.

After a few days, the smart device will have a notion of the user’s preferences.

After a week, the Nest thermostat will learn your heating and cooling habits and create a personalized plan based on your preferences.

This timeline will be followed almost exactly, with just minor adjustments possible.

Users can set different automatic temperatures for each of the five temperature modes (instead of just four in the original Nest models):

  • Cool
  • Heat
  • Alternating between cold and hot,
  • Off

Thermostat Eco (only accessible with the Thermostat E and Learning Thermostat models) (This feature is only available with Thermostat E and Learning Thermostat models.)

Another convenient feature is programmable thermostats that notify customers when they’ve reached an energy-efficient setting.

Insights like this can be useful for households looking to reduce their energy consumption and associated utility costs.

Away Mode is automatically accommodated by the thermostat’s auto-scheduling feature, which allows it to select lower energy-consuming temperatures when you’re away.

In the “Time to temperature” setting, you can see how long it will take for the room to reach the temperature you want.

Newer thermostats can be programmed manually, but people in Europe and the UK will need to download the Heat Link app to use this feature.

Temperature preferences cannot be learned in manual mode.

Whether you use a smartphone app or the physical controls on the thermostat, you have to set the temperature by hand every time.

In manual mode, the heating and cooling system continues to run until the homeowner turns it off.

Unlike auto-scheduling, which turns off the air when the desired temperature is reached, this method keeps the air moving through the house all the time.

Eco Mode

It is in Eco Mode where you can see the most striking contrast between older Nest thermostats and newer models.

If you have an older thermostat, you’ll have to use the app or thermostat interface to set a more energy-efficient setting by hand.

However, there are more subtle differences between Auto-schedule and Manual for Nest Thermostat E and Nest Learning Thermostat models that do offer Eco Mode.

Auto Eco Mode can remember the energy-saving temperature you like and turn it on automatically when your thermostat is in “Away Mode,” saving you time and effort.

When no one is home, energy-saving away modes are activated on thermostats.

The Nest Thermostat has sensors that can tell when the owners aren’t home and automatically switch to Eco Modes that use less energy.

When the same sensors detect the presence of humans again, the gadget is notified and Away Mode is disabled.

Manual scheduling, on the other hand, requires turning on Eco mode and setting temperatures by hand.

If you turn on manual eco mode and don’t turn it off via the app or thermostat, it will remain on.


The only thermostats with an automatic scheduling feature are Nest Learning Thermostats and the Nest Thermostat E.

In any case, manual mode is available on all three Nest product variants.

More recent thermostats have a feature called “Auto-Schedule” that can learn your heating and cooling habits.

When the house reaches the temperature that was set, the heating and cooling systems turn off automatically.

In the meantime, the thermostat continues to run unless it is manually turned off.

When homeowners aren’t home, auto-schedule can turn on Eco Mode immediately.

Nest Thermostats cannot learn your preferred eco-temperatures and cannot be adjusted until you do so.

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