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The transmission efficiency of embedded sensor networks (ESN) is lower than that of conventional networks due to high bit error rates and inconsistent channel conditions. Transmission efficiency as low as 47% has been experienced in deployments for various applications. Transmission errors in ESN can be recovered using three basic methods, automatic repeat request, error control coding or hybrid ARQ. This paper presents insights into the choice of error recovery protocols guided by the energy constraints imposed by ESN. We classify the ESN applications into three major classes, which significantly simplifies the choice. Further, we develop an energy model to incorporate the three schemes and draw inferences on the choice based on expected channel conditions and ESN classification. We apply the energy driven choice to two case studies, demonstrating the simplified process of choosing error recovery protocols.