The government says utility suppliers will be obliged to provide QR (quick response) codes on consumer energy bills to help bill-payers get "instant cross-market comparisons".
Consumers wanting to know more about their energy use and whether they are getting the best value for money will "have a new and easy way of finding the best deal", said the government.
"This is the latest announcement to help consumers make the switch and get a better deal, with collective switching and simpler tariffs already introduced," the government said.
Energy and climate change minister Edward 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."
Davey said that despite a feasibility study concluding there were no barriers to the implementation of QR codes on customer energy bills, and that the technology would be helpful in increasing consumer engagement, there has been no voluntary move by the energy sector to introduce QR codes.
"The government is therefore taking action under the Energy Act and will look to modify energy company licences to have QR codes included as part of energy bills," said Davey.
Incorporating QR codes or similar on customers’ bills will encourage the development of applications that use this data, says the government. It will allow smartphone users to transfer data from their bill - such as current tariff name and consumption - to their smartphone or tablet, helping them to control their consumption and costs through, for instance, uploading data to a price comparison website.
A consultation on the QR plans has been launched by the government.
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