Energy companies could be forced to add QR codes to bills to help consumers monitor their energy use and switch supplier more easily, the Government says.

Using Quick Response codes – small boxes with unique combinations of black and white dots, similar to barcodes – would allow customers to download tariff and consumption data directly from a bill.

The Government says this could then be sent to a price comparison website, where consumers will be able to check if they are getting the best deal. (Join our free Cheap Energy Club, which constantly monitors your tariff to make sure you're on the best deal.)

To scan QR codes, you need a smartphone or tablet to download a QR reader app.

Currently, no energy suppliers print the codes on their bills, but the Government wants to change their licences to ensure they use them, saving customers having to input the data themselves.

It also hopes comparison sites will develop the technology to receive the codes, and that developers will create new apps and websites, which can use the information gathered from QR codes to help customers find a better gas and electricity deal.

The plans are under consultation until 21 April and the Government hopes to introduce the codes later this year.

'Quick way to compare the best deal'

Energy Secretary Ed Davey says: "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."