It is necessary to develop new technologies for energy storage and use of renewable energy to improve energy efficiency. Phase change materials (PCMs) are a family of energy storage materials that are among one of the most suitable materials for storing and effectively utilizing renewable thermal energy. PCM-based latent heat storage (LHS) is more advantageous than sensible energy storage because of the high storage energy density per unit volume/mass and the smaller temperature difference between storing and releasing heat. However, PCMs have low a thermal conductivity and a high degree of supercooling that are affecting their efficiency for energy storage. This review article first introduces the principle of phase change energy storage and the classification of phase change energy materials. Then, the improvement of storage methods of PCMs, and the fundamental properties that affect the application of phase change materials are discussed in detail. The applications of PCMs in various fields are also reviewed, including in solar energy utilization, waste heat recovery, construction, and civil and medical use. Finally, it summarizes the research progress of PCMs and provides an outlook for future research.