Energy bills are to have compulsory Quick Response (QR) codes to make it easy for consumers to find the best deal and help them save money.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey today announced he wants all energy firms to add the codes to their bills so consumers can get an “instant cross-market comparison” and make it easier to switch suppliers.
The codes, which are similar to barcodes, can be scanned using smartphones and tablets and provide easy access to information. The data could then be automatically uploaded to price comparison sites to let consumers see what other deals are available from other suppliers.
The Government hopes its plans will encourage the development of smartphone apps that let consumers swipe their phone over an energy bill to read information such as tariff and usage.
DECC said energy firms have not voluntarily included QR codes on bills so it wants to modify energy licences to make it a condition that companies use the codes.
It is the latest in a string of announcements from the Government to help consumers get a better energy deal, with collective switching and simpler tariffs already introduced.
Mr Davey said: “We’re determined to make energy markets work better for consumers – and despite all the evidence showing that QR codes on bills would make a real difference to people, energy companies still haven’t done anything about it.
“That’s why we’re acting to make sure people have a quick, straightforward way to compare the best deal for them with a simple swipe of their phone. With so many of us using smart phones and tablets nowadays it would be strange if we weren’t using the latest technology to help us save money at home.”
Energy UK said power suppliers are working hard to “streamline tariffs, improve customer information and encourage choice so people have all they need to compare and switch”.
A spokesperson from the trade body added: “Energy suppliers have been working closely with DECC and Ofgem to put more control in the hands of our customers and new rules, coming in by April, will help customers find their best deal by providing more information to help compare deals.”
A consultation, which runs until 21st April, will seek views from across the industry who can contribute toward developing smartphone or tablet apps.