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Data forwarding schemes that use a single ACK-based retransmission mechanism are widely used to increase the packet delivery ratio in wireless sensor networks. However, these schemes may waste a considerable amount of energy for data transmissions, especially when the link quality is low for ACK transmissions. In this paper, we propose a novel multi-ACK-based data forwarding scheme to minimize the energy consumption for unnecessary data retransmissions. The next hop forwarder selection significantly affects the energy efficiency of communications. Hence, we also develop a new next hop forwarder selection metric, called effective energy consumption (EEC), which makes the proposed data forwarding scheme suitable for geographic routing protocols. Mathematical analysis and simulation results demonstrate that the proposed multi-ACK data forwarding scheme can save much energy and reduce the total amount of traffic load in the network. More specifically, the combination use of multi-ACK data forwarding and EEC metric increases the energy efficiency by 47.8% when node density is low, and 75.0% when node density is high, compared to the geographic forwarding protocols which use a well-known metric, PRR × Distance.