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The development of hardware platforms for sensing applications and the design of energy-efficient protocols for data gathering are typically viewed as separate tasks. In many cases, communication engineers decide on the protocol specification based on high-level hardware abstractions, which assume that the radio transmission block is the top spender of electrical power. However, a closer inspection of the existing technology immediately reveals that this assumption does not hold for the majority of sensor platforms currently available in the market. To help close this gap, we propose a new hardware abstraction for protocol design that takes into consideration all of the main energy spending operations. Our preliminary results confirm that (a) the same protocol can have very different energy consumption profiles over different sensor platforms and (b) slight changes to the protocols using the proposed hardware abstraction can lead to significant energy gains over a wider range of sensor platforms. The latter findings are supported by real-life measurements, where network coding is implemented using common sensor motes.