250,000 UK energy customers switched to a different supplier in February, representing roughly one percent of the total customer base. A new measure coming in April will make it easier still to compare tariffs and switch.
UK Energy, the trade association for the domestic energy industry, says that beginning in April energy bills in the UK are to come with mandatory Quick Response (QR) codes to make it easier for customers to switch their gas or electricity supplier. The barcodes will be scannable by smartphones and tablets and enable customers to upload tariff and consumption data directly from their bills. Customers will then be able to feed the information into price comparison Websites to make sure they are on the best rate.
The government hopes its plans will encourage the development of smartphone apps that allow consumers quickly extract energy bill information in a format that is consistent across all UK energy suppliers. The government had earlier requested energy companies to voluntarily include QR codes on their bills but the request was not honored, despite UK energy suppliers' claims they were already implementing steps to streamline tariffs and encourage customer choice. As a result the government has now decided to modify energy licences to make it a condition that companies use the codes.
User-friendly bills to make it easier to switch energy suppliers
By 31 March, there will be a new tariff comparison rate in pence-per-kilowatt-hour in order to facilitate comparison of tariffs. Energy bills will henceforth include personal projections estimating future charges as well to encourage comparison of key tariff components.