UPDATE: Idaho Power reached out to me regarding this story and completely destroyed this theory. Read more on what it REALLY costs here.

First and foremost, I have no doubt that there is positive intent about the free “night light” that most of us have received from Idaho Power. Their website is full of ways to save money, get rebates, and incentives for participating in energy-saving programs. However, is it possible that Idaho Power could be playing us all along?

Chris Cardenas/TSM Boise
Chris Cardenas/TSM Boise

So, there I am, preparing for the day in the bathroom as I glance over at the “night light” plugged in on the wall. Like a lot of people, my family and I received this LED night light along with a few light bulbs from Idaho Power when we set up the service. I’m brushing my teeth and just staring at this LED night light when I immediately let my mind wander down a rabbit hole of questions:

  • Is it charging right now so it can stay on in the dark?
  • Does it use energy when it’s off?
  • Will it provide light after “charging”?

I flick the light switch off and the night light turns on. With the lights still off, I unplugged it to see how long it would stay lit – nothing. At that moment, “conspiracy theory mode” took over my body and I started wondering if this was some elaborate scheme to get us all to regularly use power.

When I turned the lights back on, I checked the back of the night light and the output is a mere 0.5 watts. Doesn't sound like a lot, does it?

Chris Cardenas/TSM Boise
Chris Cardenas/TSM Boise

How much is this costing us?

Idaho Power’s website lists its residential pricing and it’s broken up into two tiers – a summer tier (June-August) and a non-summer tier (September-May). For the sake of math, we’re going to safely assume most of us fall under tier 2 for summer (10.4033¢ per kWh) and tier 2 for non-summer (8.8627¢ per kWh).

So, I found this awesome energy bill calculator at EnergyBot.com and was able to do some math using both tiers to calculate the annual cost. I found that a free night light from Idaho Power will cost us 9 cents a day and $2.70/month, or a total of $24.30 from September to May (non-summer tier). From June to August (summer tier)? That’s 10 cents a day and $3/month for 3 months or $9 total. This would mean one night light for 12 hours a day costs $33.30 a year. Here’s the kicker:

Idaho Power’s website shares that they have over 600,000 customers.

So, if every single customer is using at least ONE night light for 12 hours a day for a full year? Idaho Power would make nearly $20 million ($19,980,000 to be exact) on energy usage from that one night light in each household in a year. You can do the math if every household used two nightlights, so on and so forth.

Chris Cardenas/TSM Boise
Chris Cardenas/TSM Boise

What do you think?

Now, could there be some holes in all of this? Sure. Is this Idaho Power’s grand scheme? Probably not. But at the end of the day, numbers don’t lie and we all keep these in our homes. Heck, we have one plugged in our bathroom that’s connected to our bedroom and I’m positive that light will be off for more than 12 hours today. We also have one in our other upstairs bathroom which is dominated by my 4-year-old. I regularly remind her to remember to turn the lights off, but if there’s a night light in there anyway… does it really matter?

Feel free to share your thoughts on this with me here. Oh and one more thing - if you made it this far and you work at Idaho Power, please don’t raise my rates.

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