The UK government has outlined further plans to help consumers reduce the energy they use at home, including the use of new technology to help consumers track the energy they use, and clearer energy bills.

The proposals are part of a consultation launched by UK trade secretary Alistair Darling. The government is asking energy suppliers to improve the information in customers’ bills. Consideration is also being given to providing households with gadgets which show how much energy a household is using.

Key parts of the consultation today include requiring suppliers to provide historical information to customers about their energy use, and considering whether suppliers would be required to get actual meter readings regularly to help improve accuracy of bills.

Other key suggestions include considering whether householders should be provided with a ‘display device’ giving instant information on the amount of electricity being used. The Government is not asking people to buy these, but is looking to energy suppliers to roll these out to their customers. The consultation document asks for views on this can be done best.

If people have more information about how much energy they use, they use less. Display devices and better bills have been shown to reduce energy consumption by as much as 12%. This in turn could cut the average electricity bill by GBP25 to GBP30, Mr Darling commented. That is good news for the environment and consumers.

UK climate change and environment minister Ian Pearson said that the improved energy billing and metering could help customers make better informed decisions about their energy use.

Display devices can be a key way for individuals to engage with their energy use, giving them much greater control over their bills and their carbon footprint, he stated. Linking this to proposals for better billing could help us all make more informed decisions about our energy consumption.