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Geographic routing (GR) algorithms are attractive in ad hoc wireless networks owing to their efficiency, scalability, and in particular energy efficiency. In a two-dimensional ad hoc wireless network, the authors propose the optimal range forward (ORF) algorithm, which is based on the optimal transmission range to reduce the energy consumption of the network. Furthermore, the energy balance of each node based on the ORF algorithm is considered, and an optimal forward with energy balance (OFEB) algorithm is proposed to balance the residual energy of each node and to prolong the network lifetime. The authors compare the proposed algorithms with the existing GR algorithms, such as the most forward within radius and the nearest forward progress algorithms. The network lifetime, the network throughput, the number of packets successfully received by the destination and the average energy cost of each successfully received packet, resulting from all the algorithms mentioned above, are compared based on different node densities. It is shown that the performance of the OFEB algorithm is significantly better than the others.