Air conditioning (often referred to as AC, A/C, or air con) is the process of removing heat and moisture from the interior of an occupied space to improve the comfort of occupants. Air conditioning can be used in both domestic and commercial environments. This process is most commonly used to achieve a more comfortable interior environment, typically for humans and other animals; however, air conditioning is also used to cool and dehumidify rooms filled with heat-producing electronic devices, such as computer servers, power amplifiers, and to display and store some delicate products, such as artwork.
Air conditioners often use a fan to distribute the conditioned air to an enclosed space such as a building or a car to improve thermal comfort and indoor air quality. Electric refrigerant-based AC units range from small units that can cool a small bedroom, which can be carried by a single adult, to massive units installed on the roof of office towers that can cool an entire building. The cooling is typically achieved through a refrigeration cycle, but sometimes evaporation or free cooling is used. Air conditioning systems can also be made based on desiccants (chemicals which remove moisture from the air). Some AC systems reject or store heat in subterranean pipes.
In construction, a complete system of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning is referred to as HVAC. As of 2018, 1.5 billion air conditioning units were installed, with the International Energy Agency expecting 5.6 billion units in use by 2050. Globally, current air conditioning accounts for 1/5 of energy usage in buildings globally, and the expected growth of the usage of air conditioning, will drive significant energy demand growth. In response to, in 2018 the United Nations called for the technology to be made more sustainable to mitigate climate change.