My flat is fitted with switchable sockets as per below:

British socket

Please settle an argument a friend and I are having: if a socket is switched "on", is it wasting electricity if nothing is actually plugged into it? If so, any idea how much?

Thank you!

  • 1
    I think it would be a fun thing to calculate, though. The combination of radiative losses and capacitive losses is likely to be small for a whole house full of wiring (less than a watt), so the marginal effect of the extra 1-5cm in the switch would also be low. I'd be surprised if it was even a microwatt.
    – Móż
    Commented Oct 26, 2014 at 0:22

2 Answers 2


No. With nothing plugged in there is no circuit, so no current can flow.

An exception to this is if the socket or the switch has an indicator light - usually a neon one - that is illuminated when the switch is on. In that case the light will use a (very small) amount of power.


With nothing plugged into the power point, there is no closed circuit, i.e. no connection, so no current flow. Simple electrical theory...switch off, no closed circuit, thus no power flow. Unless, of course, there is a light of some kind which illuminates when the switch is turned on. The light will consume a minimal amount of power. But minus an indicator light, absolutely not.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.