Waste heat is by necessity produced both by machines that do work and in other processes that use energy, for example in maintaining the heat of a room. The need for functioning systems to reject heat is fundamental to the laws of thermodynamics. Waste heat has lower utility (or in thermodynamics lexicon a lower exergy or higher entropy) than the original energy source. Sources of waste heat include all manner of human activities, natural systems, and all organisms. Rejection of unneeded cold (as from a heat pump) is also a form of waste heat (i.e. the medium has heat, but at a lower temperature than is considered warm).
Instead of being “wasted” by release into the ambient environment, sometimes waste heat (or cold) can be utilized by another process, or a portion of heat that would otherwise be wasted can be reused in the same process if make-up heat is added to the system (as with heat recovery ventilation in a building).