Re: in normal use, the load average is around 1.1.
Just 1.1. Load averages are essentially dimensionless.
1.1 also seems a little high; my server generally runs quite a bit lower than that (I was going to get some figures, but there is no mail at the moment, and it's actually showing 0.00).
 It's actually the average number of processes in a runnable state at any point in time. You might be able to torture a unit out of that - but it's really not that important.