It's only March 15th and already I've had to turn on the air conditioning at my store. I'm involved in a debate with some baristas about how warm/cold the store should be kept. I want the air conditioning to be set at 78 degrees (fahrenheit) which is comfortable in the cafe, but gets warm behind the counter. The previous owner had them set the air conditioning to 72. I am dreading the electricity bill if we keep it that cool.

 

How warm/cool do you keep your stores?

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I would try 75 it will go to 78  with the thermostat swing

I just try to keep it comfortable for everyone. That normally means A/C at 74. Having the cafe at 78 would not be comfortable to me on a hot day. IMO, it's best to keep your employees comfortable and happy if you expect them to be cheerful and give good service to your customers. I'm curious, if it's 78 in your cafe how warm does it get behind the counter?

 

Because of the number of heat-generating devices and bodies running in your space, you will probably have to run your AC most of the time. Accept this and make your choices based on what is comfortable for customers and staff.

There are two problems that you are battling here:

1. Your staff are far more active than your customers, and will prefer the temp to be cooler.

2. Your bar temp is actually warmer than the cafe.

Are you doing anything to address the temperature difference? What about a couple of strategically-placed fans to cool your staff and circulate air? Can you adjust the dampers or outlets of your HVAC vents to bias the flow of cold air toward the bar?

Are you keeping the coils and filters on your refrigeration devices clean to minimize extra heat? What about bar lighting... if you are using a bunch of halogen spots switching to higher-efficiency bulbs will help.

Once you've done what you can to minimize temp differences, then you can safely set the AC a little lower without freezing your customers. They might appreciate a cooler temperature too though - a slightly higher electric bill is a small price to pay for increased customer and staff comfort. Watch them and see if you can get some clues as to how they really feel about the temp. Do they sit for a minute, then put on a sweater, then leave? Do they come in and lose a layer? Its a natural tendency to look for clues that reinforce your preference for a lower electric bill, so try to be objective. Customer comfort is important, but staff happiness is too.

Last thought - are you using a programmable thermostat? If not, you should be. That switch alone would more than pay for a slightly lower AC setpoint.

I don't remember what our thermostat was set to. In the summer it was a little warm for my taste behind the bar. We ran a fan, which made a big difference. It didn't help that I always worked in long pants and short-sleeve shirts, but the customers were comfortable in their tank tops, shorts, and flip flops.

Good question. The thermostat is located behind the counter. I haven't independently measured, but the temp displayed is probably the temp behind the counter. If so, the rest of the café would be even cooler. I'll test this. If Kim right, 72 behind the counter might be cooling the rest of the store into the high 60's!

The temp displayed is measured at the thermostat, so your assumption is correct. Get some fans.

Paul Swanson said:

Good question. The thermostat is located behind the counter. I haven't independently measured, but the temp displayed is probably the temp behind the counter. If so, the rest of the café would be even cooler. I'll test this. If Kim right, 72 behind the counter might be cooling the rest of the store into the high 60's!

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