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Does The Nest Thermostat Automatically Switch Between Heat And Cool?

You had installed a Nest thermostat in your home in mid-summer, and when the weather began to change to winter temperatures, you made a note to remember to change your thermostat from “Cool” to “Heat” before it would really get cold. But before you got to the thermostat to make the change, there was an unexpected cold front, and you experienced that your home’s temperature stayed comfortable. The question you now have is whether your Nest thermostat automatically switches from cool to heat and vice versa.

Nest Thermostat can switch between heat and cold on its own, however, this depends on the mode that it is currently in. A Nest thermostat has up to 5 modes, and each one alters how the device operates, including its ability to convert between heat and cold settings.

In this article, I’ll discuss the different modes of the Nest Thermostat and indicate when automatic switches between “Cool” and “Heat” will occur in every mode.  I’ll also explain how you can set the modes and temperature manually on your thermostat screen and then end the article with one or two FAQs.

Does the Nest thermostat automatically switch between heat and cool?

Your Nest Thermostat has many smart features. One of these features is the built-in function allowing your smart Nest thermostat to switch automatically between the “Heat” and “Cool” options. But exactly when the switch is going to happen depends on the mode your thermostat is currently in.

And although this is a very handy feature, you might sometimes want to determine for yourself when your system has to change from “Heat” to “Cool,” or vice versa. We’ll discuss how you can manually “regulate” your thermostat’s ability to change automatically between “Heat” and “Cool,” but let’s first look at the different modes your Nest thermostat might be in.  

Nest thermostat temperature modes

Your Nest Thermostat offers the opportunity to function in different modes to ensure that you get the best service for what you need in your home. Depending on the type of your home’s HVAC system and your Nest thermostat model, your Google Nest thermostat can be equipped with up to 5 available modes. The modes are:

  • Heat
  • Cool
  • Heat–Cool
  • Off
  • Eco

Before we discuss each mode, let me first explain two concepts that can play an important role in most of the modes.

Concept 1: Safety Temperatures

The Safety Temperatures feature protects your home during extremely cold or hot weather. The safety temperatures ensure that your pipes won’t freeze, or your home won’t overheat even if your thermostat is set to “Off.”  

In other words, the Safety Temperatures feature prevents your home from going above or below certain temperatures by automatically turning on heating or cooling when the pre-set limits are reached.

Concept 2: Eco Temperatures

The Eco Temperatures (“Economical Temperatures”) function allows your Nest thermostat to automatically switch to Eco Temperatures when it senses that nobody’s home.

We can now proceed to look at the different modes available:

“Heat” mode

When your Nest thermostat is in “Heat” mode, your thermostat will start the heating process whenever heat is needed to maintain your scheduled or manually selected temperatures.

It will keep on heating your home and only start cooling your home when your Safety Temperatures have been reached.

“Cool” mode

When your Nest thermostat is in “Cool” mode, your thermostat will start the cooling process whenever it is necessary to maintain your scheduled or manually selected temperatures.

It will keep on cooling your home and only start heating your home when your Safety Temperatures have been reached.

“Heat-Cool” mode

With your thermostat in “Heat-Cool” mode, your HVAC system is set to either heat or cool your home to keep your home within the temperature range you’ve manually set. Your thermostat will automatically switch your system between heating and cooling as needed. 

In other words, your thermostat is continuously monitoring the temperature and switching between heating and cooling when necessary.

This is a very useful mode for climates that consistently require both heating and cooling on the same day. For example, in a desert climate, you’ll need cooling during the day and heating during the night.

Off mode

When your thermostat is set to “Off” all HVAC heating, cooling, and fan control are disabled and it will only heat or cool to try to maintain your Safety Temperatures.

Also remember, you won’t be able to manually change the temperature when the thermostat is in “Off” mode. You’ll first have to select another mode before changing the temperature settings.

Eco mode

Only the Nest Thermostat E and Nest Learning Thermostat are equipped with Eco mode. When these two thermostats are in “Eco mode” your HVAC system will either heat or cool your home to try to keep it within the Eco Temperatures range. The temperature your Nest thermostat chooses for the times you are away from your home is called the Eco Temperature.

The Mode-table

For your convenience and easy reference, I’ve compiled the information regarding the different modes into a mode table.

 Mode What is the HVAC system set to do?“Normal” action taken by the thermostatWhen will automatic changing between “Heat and “Cool” occur? Notes
  Heat Your HVAC system is set to heat your home.It will start heating when needed to maintain scheduled or selected temperatures.It will only start cooling your home when your Safety Temperatures have been reached. 
  Cool Your HVAC system is set to cool your home.It will start cooling when needed to maintain scheduled or selected temperatures.It will only start heating your home when your Safety Temperatures have been reached. 
   Heat – Cool Your HVAC system is set to either heat or cool your home to keep it within the temperature range you’ve set.  It will automatically switch between heating and cooling when needed. It is continuously monitoring the temperature and switches between heating and cooling as needed.A very useful mode for climates that consistently require both heating and cooling on the same day.
  Off When your thermostat is set to “Off” all HVAC heating, cooling, and fan control are disabled.  It will only heat or cool to try to maintain your Safety Temperatures  N/AYou won’t be able to manually change the temperature unless you switch to another mode.
  EcoYour HVAC system will either heat or cool your home to try to keep it within the Eco Temperatures range. Your thermostat will automatically switch your system between heating and cooling as needed to keep within the Eco Temperatures range. Only the Nest Thermostat E and Nest Learning Thermostat are equipped with Eco mode. 

Change modes and adjust temperatures on the display of your Nest Thermostat

Your Nest thermostat allows you to adjust the temperature and change the modes on its display screen.

How to change the modes on your Nest thermostat display

To change your Nest thermostat’s setting from “Heat” to “Cool” and vice versa using the thermostat’s screen is quite easy.  The following steps and explanation will help you to make the necessary changes.

  • Bring up the main menu by pressing on your Nest Thermostat unit.
  • Go to “Thermostat” by using the silver scroll wheel and then push on the unit to select it.
  • A pop-up with the different possible mode options will appear.
  • If you want to switch from “Heat” to “Cool,” choose “Cool.”  Your Nest thermostat’s set temperature will automatically jump to a higher setting, but you can then adjust it to the temperature you need.
  • If you want to switch from “Cool” to “Heat,” choose “Heat.” Now your thermostat will go down to the last temperature you had it set at before you switched it to “Cool.” From there, you can adjust it to your preferred temperature.
  • You can also choose the “Heat-Cool” option and which enables the Nest thermostat to automatically turn on the furnace or the air conditioner whichever is needed. Remember, when the Nest thermostat is in “Cool” mode, only the air conditioner can be activated by the thermostat unless the Safety Temperature has been reached And when the thermostat is in “Heat” mode only the furnace can be activated – also unless the Safety Temperature has been reached. However, when the thermostat is in “Heat-Cool” mode, the air conditioning and the furnace can both be activated by the Nest when either heat or cold is needed.
  • You can also choose the “Off” option to disable the thermostat in total. It will only automatically activate either “Heat” or “Cool” when your home’s temperature has reached the set safety temperature.

How to adjust the temperature your Nest thermostat display

When the thermostat is on and shows the temperature screen, you can change the temperature on the thermostat’s screen. By sliding your finger up or down you increase or decrease the temperature.

When you manually adjust the temperature, the temperature will stay the same until the next scheduled temperature change. However, if you don’t want the temperature to change when the new schedule is reached, and you don’t want to change or remove your temperature schedule, you can hold the temperature.

Tip: When you are adjusting the temperature manually, look for the Nest Leaf icon. When it appears, you’ll know that you’ve set a temperature that will help you save energy.

Change temperature and modes on a Nest Thermostat

FAQs

Q1: Can I also change the temperature and mode of my Nest thermostat from the Nest app?

A1: Yes, you can make changes to the temperature settings and choose another mode on your Nest app. The basic procedures are in principle the same as when it is done on the thermostat itself.

Q2: Does lowering house temperature at night save money?

A2: You can save up to 10% by setting the Nest thermostat back at night – say from 21° C to 16° C.  You’ll save more energy and money if you also set your thermostat to lower temperatures when you are away from home.

Last thoughts

So, the answer to the question of whether a Nest thermostat automatically switches between heat and cool is “yes, but as a “normal procedure” only when your Nest thermostat is in the “Heat-Cool,” or “Eco” mode. In the other modes, it will only switch automatically between “Heat” and “Cool” once the safety temperature limit has been reached.