From today onwards, energy suppliers with 50,000 or more customers will need to include QR codes on bills to help consumers monitor their use and switch more easily.
Using Quick Response codes – small boxes with unique combinations of black and white dots, similar to barcodes – allows customers to download tariff and consumption data directly from a bill. Join our free Cheap Energy Club to see if you can switch and save.
Customers can then enter this data on a price comparison site where they can check whether they're getting the best deal. However, uSwitch is the only provider to have set up this functionality to date.
The idea was first proposed by the Government in March 2014 and Ed Davey, the former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, confirmed in March 2015 that energy companies would need to include the codes on bills by the end of June 2015.
And so from today, larger energy firms will have to to include QR codes on bills, whether on paper bills or statements on an online account.
How do I use QR codes?
To scan QR codes, you need a smartphone or tablet to download a QR reader app. There are QR reader apps currently out there, but if you use these they will only show your energy data, much like the data you see on your bill – they won't compare the data for you to get the best deal. You'll actively need to enter the details onto an energy comparison site.
The Government hopes comparison sites will create apps or tools that can be used to scan data and then compare tariffs.
uSwitch says its app for iPhone automatically interprets QR code data to show you personalised comparison results once you've scanned the QR code using the camera on your phone.
It adds that its comparison will then show you the tariffs best suited to you from the whole of the market, whether it receives commission from suppliers or not. It says it hopes to also bring out an app for Android users.