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Energy is a critical resource in wireless sensor networks (WSNs). To make the best use of the severely limited resource, in this paper, proposes minimum-hop layer model and ER-MHL protocol. The model layers the network based on the minimum hops to sink node. And the neighbors are classed as paternal nodes, brother nodes and son nodes. In ER-MHL, event packets are forwarded among paternal nodes in paths that ensure the paths to have the minimum hops and the maximum residual energy. The results of analysis and experiments show minimum-hop layer model and ER-MHL routing protocol have outstanding performance in packets delay, dissipated energy and lifetime of network.