My CPU turns itself off when nothing's happening (about 95% of the time, most of the time). I did download and run BOINC for a while but noticed my CPU running considerably hotter, and decided that my leccy bill was quite high enough and my office quite warm enough already.
Nerdy types running Linux on core i7/5/3 CPUs can keep an eye on their CPU states by using this tool: http://code.google.com/p/i7z/
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