But someone always forgot to shut off the air or would poke a straw or toothpick through the lockbox on the programmable controls to lower the temperature.
If employees are so desperate for cool air conditioning that they will stick toothpicks through a locked thermostat, then you probably are keeping the temperature too high. Yeah, you can cut costs by reducing the climate controls, but grumpy hot employees are not worth the savings, in my opinion.
The restaurants now use Web-based controls accessible only to top managers, ensuring the air is on only during business hours and never gets cranked too high. Those moves saved $800 in a month at one location.
I agree with automating a reduction in heat and cool air during non-operating hours. But I am very skeptical of over-managing the temperature during operating hours for morale reasons.