J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) is making what it hopes will be a cool (or hot) addition to its recently revived household appliance departments: The retail chain is partnering with heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems specialist Trane to sell its heating and cooling products.

While it's currently only testing the partnership at a few stores, it's easy to see it rolling out to more regions, and eventually, nationally . The reintroduction of appliances into half of J.C. Penney's 1,000 stores -- the retailer stopped selling them back in 1983 -- has been credited with providing a lift to sales. CEO Marvin Ellison said stores with appliances would post comparable sales as much as 3% above last year.

Ellison, of course, is no stranger to HVAC goods. As an executive at Home Depot before joining J.C. Penney, he's well versed in their capabilities to boost sales. And it's a good idea to introduce them now and have them situated ahead of their peak demand periods.

Trane was acquired by industrial giant Ingersoll-Rand (NYSE: IR) a decade ago for $10 billion, and it reports that it realizes the greatest contribution from the business in the second and third quarters, as the summer months are when it sees the highest demand for its products in the U.S. Starting this partnership now should give J.C. Penney plenty of time to get acclimated.

Home goods only account for around 13% of the retailer's revenues, but as it invests more heavily in the space, we're likely to see that percentage grow. At the same time, J.C. Penney wants to deemphasize apparel, which has been a particularly weak category for retailers.

This move will also give the department store chain another way to siphon off customers from troubled rival Sears Holdings (NASDAQ: SHLD), which many analysts fear is on the brink of bankruptcy; some have even suggested it could go under as early as next month as January is a popular time for retailers seek the courts' protection since they are flush with cash from the holidays.

Sears still has a vast real estate portfolio, but it might be worth significantly less than believed as many department stores chains are reducing their footprints, which limits the number of potential buyers for any stores Sears wants to sell or abandon. That means it essentially has three premier brands left to it -- Kenmore, Craftsman, and DieHard -- and their prestige is dwindling, particularly Kenmore. It used to be the top-selling appliance brand in the country, but has long since fallen behind GE and LG Appliances.

Hopping on the HVAC appliance train now with Trane could lure Sears shoppers to J.C. Penney, and give it an extra boost.

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Rich Duprey has no position in any stocks mentioned. 

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