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The paper presents a methodology to reduce the energy consumption of visual sensor node in wireless sensor networks. This methodology, based on a balancing between processing and transmission tasks, can be applied in all those situations where subjective image based measurements are required. Considering that in a sensor node, the communication task is the most energy consumption, the proposed method tries to find the best compression ratio able to give a significant reduction of transmission time, returning adequate and objective image quality and compression time. Some results are presented applying the proposed methodology to the particular case study: the use of wireless visual sensors to the remote metering of water counters.